Archive for the 'Heroes' Category

Release week!
by Jessa Slade on May 31st, 2010

First of all, today is Memorial Day here in the USA.  I hope everyone celebrating has a good BBQ, safe travels, and a chance for a quiet moment of remembrance.

Currently working on: Almost release day!
Mood: Whee!

This week’s topic here at Silk And Shadows is “the hardest part of writing.”  But I’m hijacking the thread, because this is a celebration week for me.   Book 2 of the Marked Souls, FORGED OF SHADOWS, comes out tomorrow, June 1, 2010!


The war between good and evil has raged for millennia, with the Marked Souls caught in the middle, but the new girl doesn’t play by old rules…

Liam Niall never meant to be a leader. Barely surviving the horrors of the Irish Potato Famine with body and soul intact, he escaped to Chicago…where he lost half his soul and gained a wayward band of demon-possessed warriors. Now, as the talyan face a morphing evil, Liam grows weary and plagued by doubt-until a new weapon falls into his hands. Her name is Jilly Chan. To save her demon-ridden soul, Liam must win her to his battle…and his bed.

Waging a one-woman war against the threats to the street kids she mentors, Jilly won’t be any man’s woman or weapon. But Liam-with his hard eyes, soft brogue and compelling hands-is a danger to her rebellious independence…and her heart.

These two halved souls sharing one fierce passion will sear a fresh scar across the city. Who’s in danger now?

“[F]or readers who love J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, the Marked Souls series will hit the spot.”
–4 Stars RT BOOKReviews

This is only my second book, but so far, it seems to me that release week  is one of the EASIEST parts of writing.  Because by the time release week rolls around, it’s too damn late.  Everything has been done.  The story is written, edited, wrapped in a manly chest — or backside, as the case may be — printed, and shipped to the stores (hopefully) to appear on shelves.  From thence to fall into book baskets everywhere (again, hopefully).

Sure, there are other things for me to do: Bite my nails, obsessively click refresh on the Amazon ranking page, self-medicate with chocolate syrup (I already ate all the cookie dough).  But the story itself is done.  All that remains is for someone, somewhere, to read it.

If YOU want to read some of it, you can:
Check out the first chapters here.
Or read the alternate beginning here.
Or even buy it.

This is the moment (okay, months) of truth for a story.  I’ve heard of writers who say they write for themselves, but I write to share.  The release of the book into the wild is my chance — finally! — to share.

I sincerely hope you like it.

To celebrate, I’m giving away a $25 bookstore gift card this week.  Just tell me which of the two beginnings to FORGED OF SHADOWS that I posted in the links above you like better, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win.  Tell a friend about this giveaway, and have the friend enter your name in her comment, and you’ll both be double entered for a chance to win.  Thanks for celebrating with me!

Before the Before
by Annette McCleave on April 20th, 2010

My process changes with every book I write. I’d love to announce I have found the best way to get a story onto paper, but sadly, it would be a lie. Novel writing is a great adventure. For now, my process looks something like this:

Flesh out my lead characters
My story ideas often come to me in the form of a character who pops into my mind and demands to tell his or her story. This person is fully formed, but I don’t know him or her very well, so I start by trying to understand what s/he wants, why she wants it, and what’s stopping her from getting it. In my stories, there’s typically two people standing between my hero and his goal–the villain and the heroine. I spend time fleshing them out, too, including what their goals are and why they want them.

Next, I look for the major events that can or will trigger my character to become the person he needs to be in order to succeed. I identify his plan for winning, and the villain’s plan for winning. I explore how my heroine’s individual goal interferes and causes problems for my lead. I give some thought to the worst things that could happen. I’m a big believer in “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Torture is an excellent tool for character-building, I’ve found. Then I toss all that stuff into the pot and mix well.

Now that I have a rough idea what’s going to happen, I can have some fun. Oh, the hours that are lost here. I love researching, and can easily lose myself in the details—many of which are never used in the book. I don’t curtail this activity too much, though, unless I’m way off-base. Immersing myself in the details helps me slide into my characters’ world.

Write the first three to four chapters
Yes, this is pre-writing. At least, it is for me. No matter how much thought I put in before I start writing, I never truly get to know my characters—or truly understand their motivations—until I walk a mile in their shoes. I need to see them react to those nasty events I envisioned and interact with other characters. I need to test them.

After I’ve written those first few chapters, I need to sit back and recalibrate. Do I really know what the hero wants? Do I really know what the heroine is willing to sacrifice to get what she wants? The answer is often NO. So, I head back to the drawing board. I don’t try to figure out everything–I like the mystery if discovering new things as I go along. My plan is simply to spot the big whoppers–the issues that could turn my story completely on it’s ear and result in endless wasted pages.

The best part of this process is peeling away the layers of the character that first showed up in my head. Discovering the complexities of that person, what makes them tick. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I people-watch in real life, too. That couple at the next table? Are they on a first date or celebrating a fortieth anniversary? Sharing the events of an average day? Or sharing a burden that’s been dragging down their shoulders all day?

Anyone else out there a people-watcher who makes up stories about complete strangers?

Cover lovin’
by Jessa Slade on March 22nd, 2010

Currently working on: Organizing a writing challenge for my Romance Writers of America chapter
Mood: Inspiring

Writing can be a lonely endeavor.  The stereotypical writer (okay, ME) spends a lot of time at her keyboard, mumbling to herself.  On rare occasions, she is booted — blinking mustily — into the sun to confront other people.  People like… readers.  Oh noes!  What to say?!  (This is especially terrifying to some writers — okay, ME — who will be attending in the next four months three booksignings, two conventions and a conference where there will be LOTS of readers to talk to — yikes!)

So we decided (barricaded safely behind the interwebz) that this week’s topic is “Questions we’d like to ask readers.”

And my question is “Does Liam have a great butt, or what?”


This is my second cover for the second book in The Marked Souls series.  And it was every bit as nail-gnawing exciting as waiting for the first cover.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

The war between good and evil has raged for millennia, with the Marked Souls caught in the middle, but the new girl doesn’t play by old rules…


Liam Niall never meant to be a leader.  Barely surviving the horrors of the Irish Potato Famine with body and soul intact, he escaped to Chicago…where he lost half his soul and gained a wayward band of demon-possessed warriors.  Now, as the talyan face a morphing evil, Liam grows weary and plagued by doubt.


Then a new weapon falls into his hands.  Her name is Jilly Chan.  To save his talyan and her demon-ridden soul, Liam must win her to his battle and his bed. 


Waging a one-woman war against the threats to the street kids she mentors, Jilly stands her ground against danger in all its guises.  She won’t be any man’s woman…or weapon.  But Liam—with his hard eyes, soft brogue and compelling hands—is a danger to her rebellious independence…and her heart.


These two halved souls sharing one fierce passion will sear a fresh scar across the city.  Who’s in danger now?

Book 1 had Archer’s chest.  Book 2 has Liam’s butt.  My goodness, what will Book 3 show? ;)

That was a rhetorical question.  My real question to readers was going to be something along the lines of “How important is a great butt cover when you decide whether to pick up a book?”  But I decided that’s a dumb question (and yes, there are dumb questions) because OF COURSE a great cover is important.  Maybe not the deciding factor, but a beautiful, intriguing or shocking cover can inspire the hand to reach for it.

And most writers have zero control over the cover.  Actually, there’s a lot that the writer doesn’t have control over, like — for a completely random, not-desperately-whorish-at-all example, ahem – the importance of preording FORGED OF SHADOWS at major bookstores…


But I do have some alleged, nominal control over me, myself and I.  And I since I will have to inspire readers IN PERSON (did I mention terrifying?) my question to readers is this: 

“What do you want from authors in real life?  What makes a great author/reader interaction?”

Besides chocolate, I mean.

To sweeten the pot in a non-caloric way, I have a signed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of FORGED OF SHADOWS to give away.  It comes with a Pepto-pink cover similar to this font color, not Liam’s handsome butt, sorry.  Comment on any post this week for a chance to win.  Heck, comment on EVERY post this week for more chances!

And finally, a parting shot…


TOO WICKED? Inconceivable!
by Our Guest on February 25th, 2010


Today, Silk And Shadows welcomes Erica Ridley, whose debut TOO WICKED TO KISS has a dark hero to die for. 

Breaking News: Win an autographed copy of Gothic historical TOO WICKED TO KISS this week only, just by answering the daily kiss question on Twitter #2w2k or Facebook!


Although release day for my debut Gothic romance is Tuesday, March 2, today I received a text from a friend who saw a stack of copies on the new release table at Borders (!!!) and sent me a photo with her iPhone. So exciting! Too Wicked To Kiss is also a Barnes & Noble book club pick for the month of March, and I’m hoping to get news of 2W2K sightings in those stores soon, too. I’m also getting ready for my first-ever signing next week, at a local independent bookstore. Definitely a scrapbook moment! But enough about me… let me introduce you to the book!

I absolutely love the cover. I think the art department did a spectacular job at evoking both Gothic darkness and sensual romance. The back cover reads:

too-wicked-to-kiss_erica-ridleyHIS TOUCH HOLDS HER CAPTIVE…

From the ravens circling its spires to the gargoyles adorning its roof, Blackberry Manor looms ominously over its rambling grounds. And behind its doors, amid the flickering shadows and secret passageways, danger lies in wait.


Evangeline Pemberton has been invited to a party at the sprawling estate of reclusive Gavin Lioncroft, who is rumored to have murdered his parents. Initially, Gavin’s towering presence and brusque manner instill fear in Evangeline…until his rakish features and seductive attentions profoundly arouse her. But when a guest is murdered, Evangeline is torn. Could the man to whom she is so powerfully drawn, also be a ruthless killer?


I had absolutely zero to do with the creation of the back cover copy, which turns out to be a good thing, because I think the copywriter did an amazing job at evoking the Gothic tone and hinting at the hero’s darkness.

The heroine’s first impression of his mansion does not exactly go over well:

Despite the tall arched ceiling with its bowed wooden beams curving at the creases like so many rib bones, the air was thick, heavy, oppressive, as if she had not stepped into the foyer of an aristocrat’s mansion, but a long forgotten sepulcher untouched by anything but death.

Were there no windows? Evangeline craned her neck to peer upward, just beneath the rafters. Ah, yes. Several. But not the kind to let in light.

The narrow slashes high above her head were the sort suited for medieval castles, for skilled archers to aim their deadly arrows at those who would trespass below, not for illuminating entryways for members of Polite Society. This evening, no archers crouched at the ready, just as no sun hung in the sky. Only the slipperiest, blackest of shadows filtered through the thin cracks to fall upon her upturned face like the cool caress of ghostly hands. The wisps of damp hair on Evangeline’s neck fluttered nervously, touched by a breeze she could not feel.

Nor does her first impression of the man himself:

He stood at the landing above the spiral stair, cloaked in shadow. Tall. Unnaturally so. Was it the angle, the skewed perspective of being so far beneath him? Or was his towering stature undeniable, evident in the width of his shoulders, the muscular length of his legs, the long pale fingers curved around the banister?

Evangeline swallowed a gasp.

Not because of the obsidian eyes framed by equally black lashes. Nor because of the angry slash of cheekbones, the flash of bared teeth, or the scar just above the edge of his jaw. Those things, though separately terrible, together formed a face of cold, cruel beauty. A face for statues, for frescoes, for—

Another flutter of orange light as he reached the final stair, and Evangeline could no longer breathe.

He was angry. Horribly angry. Livid. Enraged. Furious. His eyes glittered like a wolf’s because he was a wolf, a beautiful, powerful, violent wolf, prowling toward his unsuspecting prey.

Miss Evangeline Pemberton has her own dark secrets to keep, some of which are linked to the psychic abilities she’s tried so hard to hide–which is hard to do when she’s bombarded by visions and debilitating migraines at the slightest skin-to-skin touch. Before he discovers her secrets, the hero has his own unsettling encounters with the heroine:

For several long moments, Gavin watched her, unnerved by how still she held herself, how statue-like she posed. Her body was as lifeless and beautiful as an ivory sarcophagus molded in her image.

She stood so quiet and unmoving he might well have been in a room with two dead bodies. The unwelcome sensation of watching a pair of corpses had his muscles twitching in trepidation.

Gavin shifted his weight, uncomfortable in his own skin, even less comfortable with the motionless woman a few feet before him. Her fingers no longer shook, so frozen did she stand. He could not hear her breathing, even in the unnatural silence of the dank chamber. Her breasts no longer rose and fell. Even the folds of her gown held no ripples, no motion, as if they too were carved of stone and impervious to both breeze and life.

These two have a lot to deal with, but don’t worry–there’s still plenty of time for romance! Here’s a snippet from just before their first kiss:

He coasted his open mouth just above her flushed cheek, his breath steaming against the curve of her cheekbone, the dip below her earlobe, the length of her exposed neck.

Her body writhed between the hard wall and the even harder man before her. A sudden urge to force his lips upon her thrummed in her veins, but her dimming sense of self-preservation cautioned her to flee while she was still able.

You can read the full kiss scene on my blog at:


Erica will be hanging out at the blog today, so please leave comments! And don’t forget to check out the kiss contest on Facebook or Twitter and win an autographed copy of Gothic historical TOO WICKED TO KISS!

Get extra content and bonus features for Too Wicked To Kiss on the Unauthorized Scandal Sheet at:

For contest, blogs, embarrassing photos, and other fun stuff, check out Erica’s author web site at:

Please join Erica for lots of games and prizes in the Facebook community at:

And if you have Twitter, please come tweet with Erica at:

My first romance… Novel, that is :)
by Jessa Slade on February 22nd, 2010

Currently working on: Just finished page proofs on FORGED OF SHADOWS, the last step before June 2010 publication
Mood: Good luck, little book!  Now get out

rose-in-winterDoesn’t everyone remember the first romance novel they discovered?  Back in the day, I stumbled upon my mother’s copy of A ROSE IN WINTER by Kathleen Woodiwiss.  A charming rouge, a burned-out manor house, an auction-block marriage, a winter ball, and a Beauty and the Beast twist.  Oh my!  After reading that, I was ruined forever.  Kinda like your typical swooning historical ingenue.

I think the right first romance novel is very much like the right first kiss.  You want it to be special, deep and meaningful, a memory to cherish.  So, like a fairy godmother picking out a prince, I take a book recommendations very seriously, especially when I am recommending a first romance novel.

Romance novels already suffer from red-headed stepchild syndrome with some (silly!) people, but I love when I can win over a new reader.  I’m always discovering new great books that I just KNOW will turn on the most hard-hearted cynic, and I also have a few gold standards that I can fall back on.

Romantic comedy
I always like to start off easy on a new romance reader.  I find a contemporary romantic comedy can be a good beginner romance because:

  • The contemporary settings are readily absorbed.  There are no Austenian social mannerisms to maneuver around, no “och, wee lass, do ye ken mah claymore yearns fer ye?” historical diction to decipher.
  • Rom-com movies often pave the way in reluctant psyches.agnes
  • The fun covers sometimes don’t even give away that it IS a romance.

Anything by Jennifer Crusie is a great “starter” because her dazzlingly delightful dialogue will win over non-believers.  And it’s so convenient that she’s writing with Bob Mayer now, because you can even spring these books on unsuspecting male-type readers because — hey! — there’s a guy’s name on the cover!

Historical romance
For the slightly uptight, a good, corseted historical can help loosen them up.  The trick with “reading” a reader who might like a historical is figuring out whether they’ll sway toward a more correct historical interpretation or if a rollicking adventure would more tickle their fancy.

But as far as tickling goes, a spicy, saucy story like Delilah Marvelle’s are sure to please.  And by pleasure, I think we all understand what I mean ;)

Of course, there are also category romances, romantic suspense, inspirationals, straight contemporary, women’s fiction (with a strong romance)…  And, of course, paranormal romance :)  But as you know, paranormal romance isn’t for the faint of heart.

Finding a first romance novel for the people around me isn’t just a job.  It’s a passion!

And how lucky I am to be able to indulge my love as a tax write-off ;)

What’s the first romance novel you recommend to newbies?  Have you ever made a romance reader for life (or — in the case of paranormal romance – afterlife)?

Man, that’s an ugly baby
by Jessa Slade on December 7th, 2009

Currently working on: Christmas madness, not to be confused with Christmas cheer
Mood: Cheerfully mad

Writers sometimes compare their books to babies.  People with actual babies may take offense because books don’t throw up on you.  But for the sake of analogy, writing a book and doing the baby thing are both creative endeavors with certain similarities: 

  • Both take about nine months to finish.  (And often enough, starting a book isn’t something you plan either.)
  • There’s a lot of crap at first.
  • Eventually, you have to let go and set the book/baby free.
  • Nobody ever tells you to your face that your baby is ugly.

I’m not sure why this is, because there are plenty of ugly babies in the world.  And some really awful book covers too.  But among all the many munchkins and manuscripts I’ve seen unleashed upon the unsuspecting public, I’ve never heard anybody tell the author, “Ooh, that’s unfortunate.”

Sure, entire websites are devoted to snarking on covers — and more than one water-cooler conversation has revolved around Junior’s elephantine ears — but the author/momma is never present.  Well, maybe there’s a good reason for this.  And I suspect the reason has less to do with compassion than selfish concern about the potential reaction of the hormonally unbalanced.  (And if you think an author at The End isn’t unbalanced, you should watch me stagger away from my computer after the last chapter marathon.)

But maybe I’m being cynical.  Maybe people don’t laugh aloud in front of the proud author/mama because:

  • It’s just rude.
  • The author/momma probably didn’t have any real say in what the book/baby looks like.  Sure, you can choose a reasonably attractive mate in the hope that genetic roulette will be weighted in your favor, but mostly it’s God — or as we call them in the technical world of publishing, the Cover Gods — who chooses.
  • What really matters is what’s inside.

Honestly, I know I don’t have the emotional distance needed to make decisions about cover art.  For example, because SEDUCED BY SHADOWS is set in Chicago in November, I suggested that my hero, Archer, was smart enough to wear a hat and scarf against the cruel winds.


Yeah, that obviously was a stupid idea.

And I confess, I once bought a book simply because the guy on the cover was smokin’.  A good hero brings his own heat to the Chicago night ;)

How about you?  Ever judged — and bought — a book by its cover?

It Takes a Village…
by Annette McCleave on November 10th, 2009

…full of alpha males to conquer evil. At least, that’s the way it works in most paranormal romance series. I would have to say it’s true of my Soul Gatherer series—although, not all of the guys appear to be alphas to begin with. Some of them are masquerading as humorous sidekicks.

But let’s face it, to be worthy of a book of his own, the paranormal hero must be larger-than-life and the perfect match for our erstwhile heroine. He cannot be a milquetoast. He can’t talk his way out of trouble, at least not as standard operating procedure. The action can’t happen to him, he needs to step out to meet it, and bust his, uh, chops defeating the bad guy.

I know, I know. I like laid-back guys with a sense of humor, too. I really do. In fact, I started a story with one as the hero…

A back road in Derbyshire, 1467

“Stand and deliver!”

The coach rocked to a halt on the bumpy carriage trail. Inside, Ronald le Fou smiled reassuringly at his three female companions. “Fear not, ladies. ‘Tis only a midnight highwayman in search of a few pennies. I will see to the knave.”

He opened the door and leapt to the ground, brushing the wrinkles out of his travel-stained velvet jacket. Nodding to the frightened coachman, he walked to the front of the stranded carriage, smiling at the man who stood in the road, blocking their path.

“Look here, my good man. I’ve a purse full of silver deniers. Take them and be on your way.”

The shadowy figure draped head-to-toe in flowing black robes planted his boarhead staff in the mud. “I do not want your money. I’ve come for the girl.”

Ronald stared at the glistening drops of spittle that had landed on his jacket. “What girl?”

“The one known as the Lock.”

“The Lock? Don’t you mean the Key?”

“No, no. I have the Key. I need the Lock.”

“Is she a pretty blonde with skin like pearls and eyes like sapphires?” Ronald asked.


“A brunette with a radiant inner beauty and eyes the color of a spring meadow?”

“No.” The mysterious stranger shook his staff and a lightning bolt hit a tree behind the carriage. The tree toppled to the ground with a resounding crash, blocking their exit and startling the horses. “The redhead, you fool. Everyone knows a woman with mystical qualities must be a redhead.”

Ronald frowned. “But the redhead is my sister.”

“Give her to me now, or face an eternity in a demon dimension.”

“Hmmm.” Ronald let his tongue glide over the fangs in his mouth. “Since I’m already a demon, I’m not sure that threat delivers the impact you were looking for.”

The dark mage stepped forward, a snarl of rage distorting his pox-scarred face. “Give her to me.”

“You know,” Ronald said pleasantly. “If I give her to you, she’ll just break free at your first soliloquy and summon her boyfriend—that rather annoying immortal crusader with the huge Celtic tattoo on his shoulders. He’ll cut off your head with his sword, and it will all end badly. Are you sure you don’t want the purse of silver deniers?”

Raising both arms, chanting in a heretofore-unheard-of language, the mage called down another bolt of lightning.

It struck Ronald smartly and fried him into a big pile of dust.

The mage then…

See the problem? Nice guys don’t finish last in paranormal romances—they don’t finish at all. All those other arrogant, rough-around-the-edges immortals wandering through the story haven’t got the patience to deal with them. At least, that’s my theory.

Got a different theory? Step right up with your staff and share it. :grin:

A pack of lone wolves
by Jessa Slade on November 9th, 2009

Don’t forget: Jocelynn Drake is giving away a complete collection of her books.  Comment through Thursday for a chance to win!

Currently working on: Google mapping a booksigning tour of Chicago
Mood: By the numbers

I read a funny rant about a imaginary series written around a group of Regency heroes, all friends – and all dukes, naturally — who despite being all alpha males somehow never suffered even a momentary burst of testosterone-induced aggression amongst themselves.  And while intellectually I thought, well, yes, there’d probably be friction in such a group, I also thought, heck, I’d totally read that.

band-of-brothersI love the ‘band of brothers’ trope.  From Navy SEALs to vampiric cabals, I like when the manly heroes work together, support each other, yes, even love each other in a back-slapping sort of way.  In reality, of course, we know they’d go all LORD OF THE FLIES on one another and there’d be no sequels.

But for the sake of romance, I think having our heroes start with the training wheels of a bromance teaches them some important life lessons:

1. Girls make better roommates.
Nothing ultimately prepares a man for commitment to a woman like living with other men.  Sure, he’ll whine about the vast array of toiletries in the medicine cabinet and the lingerie hanging over the shower curtain rod, but he’ll choose that hands down over tightie-whities in the hall and his buddy using his toothbrush to augur out his Sig.

2. Girls make you grow a pair.
And I don’t just mean in a lustful way.  While he’s living with his bros, a man is always given unspoken permission to never get over the mental and emotional wounds that prevent him from becoming a Hero.  As Aristotle said of bromances (well, not really of bromances but of close friendships between men): ”It is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality.”  That translates among the band as a “don’t ask, don’t tell… about anything” policy which is, no doubt, quite comfortable for them.  And sadly limiting.  Not that the heroine would ever put up with that.

3. Girls smell nice.
It’s been noted before that heroes — particularly paranormal heroes — have preternaturally keen senses of smell when it comes to their women.  Doesn’t get mentioned so much when they’re talking about their brothers, which — considering the fragrance of a typical locker room — leads me to believe that living a bromance first improves tact and diplomacy.

Most of all though, life with his band of brothers teaches the hero:
4. Even lone wolves get lonely.

So who writes your favorite band of brothers stories?  I call JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, although there’re enough of them to share even if I double up ;)

Everyday Heroes, Sort Of
by Annette McCleave on November 3rd, 2009

I enjoy torturing my characters. I get a kick out of making them face impossible challenges, battle sinuous evil, and survive harrowing events that threaten to rip away everything important to them.

Which is why I force many of them to have day jobs.

Admit it, didn’t I just describe your average day at the office? From what I’ve observed, sinuous evil takes many forms: Bag lunches disappearing from the communal fridge; photocopiers that jam just when you’ve got a hundred reports to produce; brown-nosing co-workers who always manage to snag the free tickets to the baseball game. Not that I’m pointing fingers.

As Jessa mentioned yesterday, being an immortal demon slayer has a save-the-universe urgency that can’t be contained to pre- and post-work hours. But the world of Drawn into Darkness is a lot like the world we live in, and people are all too eager to tell the tabloids about that weird guy who lives next door. Thus, even immortals need to LOOK normal.

Some of my characters stick to standard job fare, like my heroine Rachel in Drawn into Darkness, who works a 9 to 5 job (Ha! I really mean 8 to 6 with homework) at a local high tech firm. She has a boss who—as Rachel puts it—“stalked the halls like a lion, pouncing on the slightest pause in activity”. Rachel’s job causes her a lot of extra conflict when she’s forced to take on a powerful demon to save her daughter. Let’s face it, even after the demon’s dead, you still need to pay the rent. Poor Rachel, tortured by her author.

Painting landscape

Other characters, especially the ones who used to have jobs as sword-wielding knights, have fake jobs, just for appearances. Lachlan MacGregor, the hero of Drawn into Darkness, disguises himself as a priest. He’s got a couple of reasons why he chose that profession, but dressing the way he does certainly simplifies his explanations when he’s caught hovering around a dead body. Which, as a Soul Gatherer, is a daily risk.


Brian Webster, the male lead from the second Soul Gatherer book, Bound by Darkness, used to be a stockbroker (back when he was alive). Now, he uses his investment skills to keep himself in designer suits. Conveniently, investing is not a job that requires regular office hours, so he can pause to battle evil whenever and where ever it pops up.

The heroine in Bound is a thief. Lena steals ancient artifacts and sells them on the black market. She’s got her reasons, which I won’t reveal here. Problem is, being a thief isn’t a job you take on to ‘fit in’. In fact, she doesn’t mention her little hobby to her neighbors—the business card she hands around at block parties labels her an antiquities dealer.

Personally, I love imagining people’s alter-egos. Got anyone at work who you’re certain moonlights as a vampire? Can you imagine the woman in the next cubby with a lab in her basement worthy of Dr. Horrible? A mild-mannered co-worker who might be save the world in his spare time? No need to name names. Just tell us what you think their secret persona is…good or evil.

Working 9 to 5 (pm to am, that is)
by Jessa Slade on November 2nd, 2009

Currently working on: A dreadful synopsis
Mood: Dreading

I read a post on a writing site awhile ago wondering why so many paranormal heroes don’t have real jobs.  What?  Like saving the world doesn’t count?!  Sheesh.


When I was imagining the world of the Marked Souls, I thought about giving my immortal demon-possessed heroes day jobs.  I’ve read vampire rock stars and werewolf business men, fairy mechanics and superhero reporters; certainly there was something gainful for my heroes to do when they weren’t obliterating evil.  After all, they’d had jobs before their possession.  Ferris Archer, in SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, grew up thinking he’d be a farmer like his father before him; then the Civil War and a demon got him.  Liam Niall, in FORGED OF SHADOWS, was a blacksmith before he half starved during the Irish Potato Famine and started pounding the hell — literally — out of demons.

But the logistics of applying for employment in today’s world got a bit harried. 

For one thing, my heroes are immortal.  Which drives the Human Resources department nuts.  The immortal bit negates the demand for health insurance, but how do you set up a 401K with employer matching when the employee will be around forever?  Unless of course he’s brutally slaughtered one night during his second job which puts an unnecessary burden on his co-workers.

Speaking of second jobs, my league of talyan — warriors possessed by repentant demons — roam the streets of Chicago all night, draining the malevolent, chaotic energies from demons of the nonrepenting kind.  So they’d have to take the day shift.  But when would they sleep?  Presumably, as immortals with the strength and speed of their inner demons, they could get their jobs done and still catch a few hours of sleep, but then when would they find time for love scenes?

Nope, a real job just wasn’t working out.  They’d have to be content with battling evil and saving the world.

Secretly, I suspect the reason many paranormal romance authors don’t give their heroes real jobs is because we don’t want day jobs either.  It’s as much work for us to throw obstacles in our characters’ paths as it is for them to overcome.  It’d be a joy to stay home at my computer and confound them all day.  But until that particular dream comes true, I’ll just have to envy them their vocations.  With the exception of the brutally slaughtered part, of course.

If you were a heroine in your personal storyworld, would your day job get in the way, or would it help you preserve your cover?  Which skills would serve you in both lives?