Archive for 'dark heroes'

Shades of Gray
by Annette McCleave on April 14th, 2009

S.J. Day’s resume includes a variety of odd jobs ranging from amusement park employee to POW interrogator. She’s presently a full-time writer. A native Southern Californian, S.J. thinks there’s no place like home, but she loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her to Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and all over the United States. Next week, they take her to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Orlando, Florida, where she’s looking forward to meeting readers and writers alike. Or you can meet her from the comfort of your home over at her website:

S.J.’s alter ego, Sylvia Day, is well known for her evocative and highly sensual historical romances. The world S.J. has created in her new urban fantasy series, Marked, is certainly evocative. And exciting. And gripping. She’s built a world where demons and angels and all sorts of interesting creatures take hold of your imagination and never let go. She’s here today to dish the goods on her two hot heroes, those infamous brothers, Cain and Abel.

S.J. kindly gave away an ARC of Eve of Darkness to our Silk and Shadow Dwellers in February and she’s offering one lucky commenter an ARC of Eve of Destruction today. Be sure to comment for your chance to win!


sjdayIt’s a widely held rule of thumb that one should avoid discussing politics and religion in mixed company. Such topics are so divisive that it’s difficult to bring them up without sparking heated debate. That being said, it’s hard for me to avoid the topic of religion while talking about the heroes of my Marked series — Cain and Abel. However, since my guys are fictional–of course–we’ll just look at them that way. :wink:

One of the biggest questions I’m asked is: what inspired you to write a series wrapped around the most infamous brothers in history? My answer isn’t very helpful I’m afraid. I was in the shower (where many of my ideas are born) and Eve’s story popped into my head fully formed. I knew her and her story, and I knew she was torn between Cain and Abel. Honestly, I just *knew* it. Dripping water and wrapped in a towel, I grabbed my laptop and typed out what was fresh in my mind before it escaped me forever.

But spontaneous premise aside, I’ve always been fascinated with the tale of Cain and Abel. I’m not the first to think, “There’s more to that story.” There are other, non-canonized texts that didn’t make it into the Bible we’re familiar with. The First and Second Books of Adam and Eve and the Book of Jubilees all delve a bit more into the story than Genesis, but there are still a lot of mysteries that we can’t yet know the answers to.

So, I took creative license: I gave Cain the benefit of the doubt. There are two sides to every story, I always say. I blended the white that is Abel and the black that is Cain to make two gray men. Neither is perfect and neither is evil. They have more in common than not, as most siblings do, and they happen to fall in love with the same woman.

Marked Series

While the advance reading copies of the first two books have been circulating, I’ve found it interesting (and delightful) that readers clearly like one brother over the other. So far, it’s Cain who’s won the most hearts. As a writer, there’s a joy in knowing that with the right spotlight on a character, even an infamous murderer can become a beloved hero. I wish I could take credit for that, but really I’m just the narrator.

Do I have a favorite brother? No. I’m hoping that more readers will come to see Abel as a worthy challenger for my heroine’s attentions. Maybe, because I’m inclined to root for underdogs. Maybe, because they’re equally yummy in my eyes.

How about you? Do you have a favorite story where you rooted for the “bad boy”? Have you ever read a story where you feel like the wrong guy got the girl?

Dark heroes wanted: Wimps need not apply
by Jessa Slade on April 13th, 2009

Warning: Some of the following may cross the line into slight snark and spoiler territory.

Currently working on: Judging the 2009 Prism contest
Mood: Happily awash in books

joss-archerIt’s tough being a dark hero.  Sure, you’re sexy, powerful, sexy, and possess a seemingly endless supply of black leather jackets. 

But you’re also tortured.  The forces of evil are arrayed against you in ways that most cowboys, architects and veterinarians just don’t have to deal with.  Even billionaire sheiks wouldn’t put up with the brooding shadows that haunt your eyes when you’re a dark hero.

I know last week I said I was in love with my brooding hero.  But – oh fickle heart of mine — my loves only last about 400 pages, and then I’m on to a new love. 

joss2This week, I’m enamored with this hottie:

If you don’t recognize him, that’s Joss Whedon, the creative genius behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and — most recently — Dollhouse.  Sure, “creative genius” is overused, but I don’t think I’m overstating the case to say that Buffy and Angel helped crack the floodgates for today’s feast of paranromal and urban fantasy romances.

While Whedon is most often lauded for his strong heroines, I think he does a smashing dark hero.  Emphasis on smashing.

joss-angel2Angel, of course, was the first.  (I’m skipping the movie version of Buffy, because apparently creative genius goes through a crawling stage before it can fly.)  The vampire with a soul, poor Angel had to pay endlessly (or at least through the five seasons of his own show) for his sins.  Love was granted him — with the absolutely wrong person, naturellement, a vampire slayer – then torn away (repeatedly).  He even lost his soul on occasion.

But he portrayed one of the important lessons of a dark hero: Redemption is so often a path, not simply a destination.


In contrast (the hair, if not so much the black leather), Spike was the unrepentant dark hero.  Reveling in his badness, he offered a delightful foil for the self-flagellating Angel.  

In Spike’s human past as a minor Victorian poet with a penchant for tearing up — and that’s tearing as in crying as opposed to shredding – we see another vital aspect of the dark hero: Vulnerability must be hidden from the world. 

Until, of course, the heroine rips you wide open.  Being a dark hero is sooo much more difficult when there’ s a heroine out there with your name stenciled on her love bullets.


Which is not to say that torture, remorse and vulnerability has to get a man down.  Whedon does the wounded warrior with a light hand, like the wise-cracking Captain Mal from the criminally cancelled, one-season space-opera Firefly and its movie sequel, Serenity.

Mal lives one of the dark hero’s most deeply cherished credos:  That which does not kill me gives me a right fine opportunity for target practice. 

joss-horrible21Even when the hero is a villain (and, hey, villains are the heroes of their own stories), Whedon delivers a character of such depth that you can only hope a heroine comes along to set him back on that path of redemption.  (I will not spoil Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog for those who have not seen it — and why haven’t you? — but those who have know I am being very snide with that last sentence.)

Dr. Horrible taught us: It’s okay for a dark hero to sing.

joss-ballard2All of this (except for that last example, which is probably undermining my efforts) is a thinly veiled attempt to interest you in Whedon’s work because I am thoroughly enjoying his latest, Dollhouse, and I’m fatalistically convinced it won’t survive the season. 

We’re only now beginning to unravel the layers of Whedonesque plotting, but already the dark-hero-in-the-making FBI Agent Ballard is suffering nicely.  He needs to be roasted a little longer to be truly dark, so I’m hoping more people find the show.  Soon.  I need my Whedon fix since he seems to know: Dark heroes, like dark chocolate, are good for the heart.

Any fellow Browncoats in the house?  And speaking of brown coats, will someone please tell me what’ s sexier than a black leather jacket?  No, srsly, I need something sexier than a black leather jacket.