Glamour & Shadows
Glamour & Shadows Book 1
by Robert Hazelton
Genre: Urban Fantasy 260 pages
From the Author of Drown the Heart and Creative Spark, this is where the Society stories all begin with a dimming of the lights.
Only the Society keeps humanity blissfully ignorant of the dangers that lurk within every shadow.
Incubus Detective Algiers Stanton and his fairy partner Ophelia Dupre have been working together for quite a while. One serious, one not so much, they make a perfect team; complementing each other even as one grates on the other's nerves.
When they're called upon to investigate a grisly murder thought to be committed by a shapeshifter, it looks like a routine case of clean & close, everyone happy. But the complications of a millennia old organization refuse to go quietly under the rug and when the past rises up to shake the very pillars of the Society, the two detective's lives may change forever in the process.
Chapter 1 Informants, Murder and a Fairy -A Journal Entry by Algiers Stanton
“God damn it, Algiers is back.” Andy shouted the message as he rushed across the empty dance floor toward the bar. He ran bonelike fingers through unwashed hair, casting a look over his shoulder. “What the hell are we gonna do?”
“Shit.” Wally, the barkeep, made a basket case cat lady look like a nubile prom queen. He harbored enough complexes to keep a therapist busy for two lifetimes. “I don’t know, but we gotta get rid of him. He left my balls in a sling last time he rolled in. God damn incubus.”
“Yeah…” Andy grimaced as he mounted a stool. One might’ve mistaken these two idiots for lovers the way they carried on but really, they never talked about anything personal. “That was a terrible experience.”
“Was it?” I stepped into the room and held the door with my foot. I heard their entire conversation as clearly as if I were sitting next to them. Their drama level made me feel contractually obligated to give them shit. “Here I thought we had something memorable, pleasant even. Ah well. There’s always next time, right?”
“Go to hell, Stanton,” Wally shot back at me with just enough bravado to convince Andy he wasn’t afraid. “Our tip was good. I know it. I heard you took down that blood sacrifice racket no problem cause of us. Don’t come in here and toss out threats. We don’t deserve your shit.”
“Relax, relax.” I felt like a cat watching two unsuspecting mice nibble at cheese, each struck with casual ignorance of the danger I represented. “I’m not here to play but I am here to see what you can tell me about the slaughterhouse the cops turned over downtown.”
“Why the hell would we know anything about that?” Andy glared at me with piss yellow eyes. The underlying message begged for me to leave and the fear he tried to mask wrung a predatory smile from me. I mounted the bar stool to his right. My presence made him stammer. “W-we just hang out h-h-here all day, man. N-n-nothin’ ta tell…”
“He’s right, Stanton.” Wally shrugged his beefy shoulders while nervously polishing a glass. “Ain’t heard ‘bout no slaughterhouse. Why? You let one of your loonies out on the street again? Should I close early tonight?”
“Look around this place. If the health board came in they’d put your ass up for crimes against humanity. Close early? I’m not sure you should be open at all but commentary on cleanliness aside, I know you’ve heard something. You want to test me, I’m game. I’ll show you what’s worse than a sling and a couple boo-boos.”
“Jesus, man!” Wally slammed the glass down so hard, I couldn’t believe it didn’t break. He cast a wary gaze about the room as if someone might be listening. Somehow, I refrained from rolling my eyes. Customers didn’t frequent their place, only roaches. “Alright, you know Melvin?”
“Not the mouse.” I prayed he didn’t mean that Melvin but really, how many mothers burdened their kids with such a name? “Please not him.”
“Yeah, him.” Wally nodded, maintaining a grim expression. “He came in here talkin’ all kinds of shit about some shifter going nuts in public. Tore a couple people up then dragged ‘em off. Something must’ve interrupted the beast this time. Maybe Mel knows somethin’ else. It’d be a start.”
“Lovely. You guys hear anything else, call me. I need concrete info, not second-hand shit.”
“Whatever, Stanton,” Wally scoffed. “What the hell do we get out of this ‘relationship’ anyway?”
I lifted my brows. “Interesting word choice, Wally. Relationship. I thought you guys just wanted to be informants but if we’re going somewhere else…hell, you want to step in the back room?”
“Whoa there, man.” Wally’s hands lifted defensively and Andy moved off his seat, slinking away. “We’ll call, alright? Don’t…you know, don’t turn it on.”
“You mean don’t turn you on…right?”
“Exactly.” Wally’s skin turned pink as a spring sow but I didn’t have time to bother him anymore. Duty called.
“See you guys around.” I tossed a fifty down. “Another fifty if you get me a solid lead. You got it?”
A meaty hand snatched the cash before I even stood up. Loyalty seemed easy enough to buy in my business. The currency depended on the subject. Some wanted money and others accepted alternative means of payment. I happened to be especially designed to provide rapture as an option, which tended to have the best exchange rate available.
Sexual pleasure as a commodity came about when someone realized touching their private parts felt good. When they got bored, they looked around for something else to push it against. As an incubus, I operated as a carnal virtuoso, able to bring people to places of excitement they likely never imagined possible.
Last time I worked with Wally, he held out on me. I brushed my fingers against the side of his neck and set him on a path of self-fulfillment. Three hours later, when he finally regained control, the aforementioned sling came out. He learned the lesson and promised to offer less resistance in the future.
Rain came down in torrents, cascading heavily for a few moments then going back to the lazy mist common to the Pacific Northwest. I drew my trench coat tightly about me and paused to survey the distance between the porch of the bar and my car. I should’ve brought an umbrella.
I didn’t see anyone out walking for blocks in either direction. Hardly any cars took to the streets either. Wally’s place occupied an undesirable part of town but I expected some people. Weather rarely stopped anyone from enjoying a little night life. Maybe something else kept them at home.
I jogged to the car, started it up and pulled onto the wet road. My headlights struggled to pierce the gloom, massive drops hammering the windshield. A news lady talked about the crime scene downtown and warned people to stay away. I wondered if the message came from our people or some paranoid human producer.
A vacant building just off a busy street became a slaughterhouse. Cops got there fast but Society people intercepted them before they did any real damage. We got the corpse away from their forensics and prepared a story for the media. Standard tasks for our cleanup crews but those guys didn’t like repeat performances.
Which is where we came in.
My partner and I worked out of a small place in a decent neighborhood. I picked the area because it felt safe from human thugs who liked to break into cars. The windows on my ride cost too much to risk them being broken on account of some dumb ass wanting my stereo.
It also came with a great view of a lake.
“Hey, Ophelia—” I stepped into the office and paused. My partner propped her feet on the edge of her desk, knees parted. Leather pants clung to shapely legs all the way up to a studded belt. She left her white blouse partially unbuttoned, showing off some chest. My eyes crawled up from heeled boot clad feet to short, shaggy cut alabaster hair.
I seemed to have interrupted her lunch or at least a snack. Ophelia’s tongue caressed a spoon with all the teasing adoration a lover might impart during a drawn out session of oral sex. Lidded eyes held a hint of pleasure I’d seen during intimate times. Red jam stained her lips as she continued to carefully clean the stiff, metal utensil. My God, she gets me going!
“Lunch?” I cleared my throat, fighting back the desire filling my tone. “Or snack?”
Ophelia tilted her head, looking directly at my crotch. The matter-of-fact expression made me uncomfortable, which rarely happened with me. I’d lived a long time without shame but somehow, this fairy’s blunt manner of dealing with my natural inclinations made me second guess myself constantly.
“Uh huh,” Ophelia replied. She licked her lips in a seductive way and what made it all the more infuriating was the fact I doubted she even meant to. “One for me at least but neither for you.”
Ophelia referred to my inability to feed off her kind. Fairy essence held little in common with the human variety and not in a pizza versus broccoli way. The intensity of her spirit most accurately felt like downing an entire bottle of Everclear on an empty stomach. The best outcome involved severe inebriation but death was also a distinct possibility.
“Glad you felt it necessary to point that out,” I muttered.
Ophelia tossed the spoon down and put her hands behind her head, leaning back to stare at the ceiling. “I’m bored, Algy. Really bored! When’re we going out to solve this crime?”
“God damn it, girl! I’ve asked you a hundred times! Can you please stop calling me Algy? It reminds me of pond scum.”
“Nope!” Ophelia grinned. “I like it. It’s shorter and easier to remember.”
“Shorter?” I clenched my fist. “Easier to remember? What are you, a goldfish? Besides, you’ve known me a year. You’re not going to forget. And Algiers has two syllables. You practically say it the exact same way!”
“Whatevs. Files came. They’re in the box…and don’t take that the wrong way, saucy pants.”
“I’ll try not to.” I sat at the desk and grabbed the envelope. “Did you look through this yet?”
“Why would I?”
“Um…you want to solve the crime? No…no, probably not. Oh! How about it’s your job? Pick any reason at all.”
“I know how shifters kill,” Ophelia replied. “This definitely sounds like one of them. Body torn apart, several pieces chewed up or entirely gone and mangled beyond recognition. I dunno about you, but I hope it’s a shifter because then we’ll be the ones to stop it. Oh, and the guy who dropped off the file told me everything he found. Which is why I didn’t read it.”
“You might’ve mentioned that part before I…” I let it go, shaking my head. “Anyway, I hadn’t thought about a human doing this.”
“Why? We don’t corner the market on nutter.”
“I guess I’m just too caught up in what we do.” I flipped open the file and frowned at the picture. Cops found the victim in a vacant office building, mangled so badly they’d require some clever methods to identify the body. Something squished the head and all the soft spots in the torso were savaged. “Maybe they brought a dog along with them.”
“Poor poochy!” Ophelia went to the fridge, bending over to grab something from the bottom shelf. I appreciated the view, enough that it made up for how much she annoyed me. “They do remember stuff you know.”
“Huh? Who remembers stuff? Dogs?”
“Goldfish.” Ophelia returned with a bottle of soda. “Or at least, they have conditioned response. That’s pretty much like memory.”
Glamour & Shadows Book 2 221 pages
From the Author of Glamour & Shadows, Drown the Heart and Creative Spark comes a vampire story with heart, soul and a twenty-sided die.
Roll for Initiative
Vinny Presaro has it made. A newly created vampire, he owns the hottest game store in town, wiling away his nights with role playing and graphic novels. His life would be idyllic if not for his terrible luck with romance and the vivid, disturbing dreams he has every couple weeks. They seemed like mere fantasy so he did his best to write them off (the dreams, sure but also the chances of being near a woman without her nervously eyeing the door).
His latest nightmare came in the form of an apocalyptic scene complete with rivers of blood, pieces of people and a demonic girl dancing amongst the carnage. When she comes walking into the store, he’s faced with the possibility that he could be having premonitions and not a chemical reaction to bottled blood.
Vinny reaches out to investigator Ophelia Dupre to help him understand his revelation. Unfortunately, she has some trouble with Vampires so their working relationship is strained to say the least. Armed with pop culture references, preconceived notions and a couple big guns, these two very well may be the only thing standing between the world and the end of days.
My name is Alvin Presaro. When I was old enough to hate my name, I found out my mom was the one who wanted it. I asked my dad why he didn’t argue for something cooler and he said he didn’t care what they called me as long as I was a boy. I’ve gone by Vinny ever since. Yeah, I get a lot of jokes about the Joe Pesci movie but they're a shit load better than the Chipmunk jokes I would’ve been subjected to.
--Vinny’s Facebook Profile
Waking up always sucked, even before I became a vampire. It sure as hell hadn’t gotten any better, especially after one of the dreams. Most of the time, we creatures of the night were dead to the world during the day (see what I did there?) and that cut down on any inconvenient night time fantasies. Sometimes…well, let’s just say My Little Pony was on permanent vacation from my crazy subconscious mind.
One of my many misconceptions about vampires was how nothing should bother us. Horror movies, freaky monsters, haunted houses and clowns were all no big deal. We drink blood to live and can do some terrifying stuff so why would we get scared? I figured that as a monster myself, I’d see something creepy, nod and say something to the effect of ‘hey, cool guys. Keep up the good work.’
Not even close.
Just after I was on my own, I went to the theater to catch the latest scary movie. I was an arrogant ass about it, stomping in there like it was going to be a Hugh Grant fiasco. Thank God I didn’t go with buddies. I was a cowering wuss before the first hour was up and when it was over, I was too chicken shit to walk four blocks home. Every shadow had me jumping and I was still in front of the box office.
I ended up taking a cab, which turned out to be the best twenty bucks I ever spent.
The point of this massive rant comes back to the whole dream thing. We do get freaked out. Drinking blood just makes us worthy of being scary, not immune to it. Dreaming about the end of days was not pleasant and my imagination was more vivid than ever. Considering how much time I spent gaming, that’s saying a lot. If shit got any more real, I’d be bringing stuff back like an Inkheart Silvertongue.
Every couple weeks, I’d wake up feeling like I’d finished off a bottle of Everclear, wrote the shit in my journal and went about my day. The details were fresh for roughly an hour before they faded so I had to be quick. After being a vampire for only a year and a half, I already filled one full book and was starting on my second.
The Satanic rave took up two pages.
Aside from that crazy shit, life was far better than it probably should have been. I had a kick ass place to sleep, a great shop to sell game stuff and a home theater that made the local art house places jealous. After writing down whatever psychotic episode wanted to play out in my head, I didn’t have a care in the world. I just went about my day, hanging with regulars and talking about entertainment.
If that’s how I had to spend the rest of forever, then I figured I had it pretty good. After all, not many people can say they died and came back to their ideal lifestyle. Well…I guess people would have to like…come back once in a while to have an opinion…or there’d have to be more vampires…or…I don’t know.
Supernatural critters all belong to a thing called The Society. It’s basically an archaic club of assholes like the Council in the Blade movie keeping all of us in line. They control the media, the police and every other human organization that matters. Most of us have little interaction with them. As long as we behave, we’re all good.
Those that cause trouble can experience anything from a warning to execution. The Society doesn’t mess around. None of us had the luxury of making mistakes. If the humans found out about us, then we were screwed. I’m not talking about a few one offs, because there are groups of dicks out there who go around hunting various creatures. I’m talking about genuine fuck ups that involve mass groups learning about the existence of vampires, shape shifters, demons, wizards or whatever else.
I was thinking about that while I showered. If any of my dreams ever came true, they’d mess up the world big time. A few months back, I had a doozy about some necromancer asshole causing a war between shifters and the society to bring his dead girlfriend back to life. It sounded like the plot of the Mummy and thank God it didn’t happen but if it had, life as we supernaturals knew it would’ve been over.
Part of me wanted to tell someone about the dreams. There were people in the Society that might’ve been able to help, sort of supernatural shrinks. I didn’t know a lot of other vampires so there was no one to ask if what I went through was normal. What little I did know about other supernaturals came from movies and novels, games and television programs. If they taught me anything at all, it was trust should never be freely given.
Unfortunately, most entertainment mediums were probably bullshit but they were all I had to roll with.
By the time I was dressed and ready for my night, I had let it all go. I was set to play a miniature game and I needed all my focus if I was going to stand a chance. My Monday night regulars were bad ass strategists and they could recite rules like a priest spouting bible passages. If ever they decided to use their powers for evil, it probably would’ve gone something like Season Six Buffy with the three nerd dudes doing ridiculous shit.
Luckily, these guys were interested in only three things: kicking people’s asses at board games, knowing more about Doctor Who than the people who invented it and doing breast checks in any new sci fi or fantasy movie. A little weird, yes but benevolent enough. I was just on the outskirts of being too old for them so some of my useless knowledge was considered retro.
I was still cool for a while longer. Nightlife Gaming was my store’s name. It was located in a three story building with a basement in a decent part of town a few blocks from a big ass mall. The place belonged to me so I didn’t have to worry about landlords or leases, just taxes and keeping the place up. It was pretty easy for the most part, especially since it had been renovated before I took possession of it.
The Hermes Foundation
Glamour & Shadows Book 3 258 pages
From the Author of Glamour & Shadows and Nightlife Interrupted comes the third book set in the world of the Society.
Magic is Real
Lillian Bowan has seen a lot. A former war correspondent turned struggling journalist, she has been searching for the one story which will satisfy her ambition, to be part of something meaningful. When she rushed down for a coveted TV spot covering a gas main explosion, she never dreamed it would put her on a dangerous path of discovery.
Nicolas Chabrier lives in a world of demons and mysticism, where vampires are real and shape shifters stalk the night. An independent wizard trained by an esoteric group outside the bounds of reality, he tries to keep a low profile out of the supernatural spotlight. When he saves Lillian from a demonic incursion and tries to erase her memory, he finds something far more insidious than a random invasion.
Lilly was on a mission. She flashed her ID card to the front desk security without sparing them a glance and slapped the button to summon the elevator. Frustrated rage made her twitchy but she refused to pace, instead remaining perfectly still with her eyes fixed on the elevator’s progress.
“Good morning, Miss Bowan.” One of the new interns came up alongside her. “You’re looking particularly sharp today.”
“Thanks.” Lilly kept her tone even and neutral. She specifically picked her black pinstripe suit to make a statement, a corporate power look to remind her boss she was ambitious. Opportunities were hard to come by and she was not one to squander them.
“I loved the piece you wrote on...on the no kill animal shelters. You had a lot of great points, good research.”
Lilly looked at the younger man who couldn’t have been out of college more than a few months. His blond hair was cropped so close to his head at first glance he appeared to be bald. Pale skin was still plagued by the lingering effects of youthful acne and he was soft spoken, shy. She found her mood lightened by his eagerness.
“What was your name again?” Lilly asked.
“Mark...Mark Sanders. We only met once when I first started last month...I’ve been working with Tammy?”
“Oh, she’s a good choice,” Lilly replied. She had to nurse her indignity. Mark reminded her of herself when she first got started which was a good memory. Still, she couldn’t be soft on the editor. “She covered those riots a couple years back. Ask her how she survived. It might come in handy.”
The elevator arrived and they both piled on, tapping the eighth floor. Mark spoke quickly.
“I understand you did some war correspondence in the Middle East.”
“Yeah, I was there for nine months.”
“Your articles focused on the action. Were you embedded?”
“With a supply unit traveling around the region. The routes were supposed to be safe but we were ambushed twice.”
“So you actually saw combat?”
“From the ground outside of a jeep watching as the soldiers fended off the insurgents.” Lilly glanced at her watch, mostly to express her impatience. “And before you ask, yeah it was scary as hell.”
“I can’t imagine it...”
“I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy,” Lilly said just as the doors opened. “But then, most people don’t take advice. It was an enlightening experience, that’s about all I can say.”
“I’ll bet.” Mark stepped off the elevator after her. “It was very nice to meet you, Miss Bowan.”
“Likewise, Mark. Have a good day.”
Lilly made straight for the editors office, picking back up the rage she lost while talking on the elevator. The man was alone and not on the phone which made her feel a little better. At least she wouldn’t look like a rude bitch when she burst in to say her piece.
Gary Hearsh was good at his job and he had probably taken his fair share of rants from reporters. When she threw open his door without a knock and slammed it shut, he didn’t even have the courtesy to act startled. He looked up with a languid expression, his eyes challenging her to bring him something new.
“I can’t believe you let channel six drop my segment!”
“Good morning to you too.”
“This isn’t funny, Gary!” Lilly leaned over and tapped his desk. “I was counting on that break! It was big news and I risked my life. How could they give it to some other reporter? That jerk wasn’t evenon the scene?”
“They weren’t interested in an on the ground perspective. A gas main exploded. What more do you want? It’s not rocket science.”
“I was in the thick of it with rocks falling out of the sky and fire burning everywhere...I could’ve been blown up!”
“But you weren’t.” He paused. “Though I suppose if you had been, it would’ve been bigger news.”
Lilly scowled. “I suppose you think you’re funny.”
“A little bit, yes.”
“It’s not!” Lilly turned away with an exasperated grunt. “I thought you’d stand up for us here and help out! I’m sick of doing menial work. You know, I was taken more seriously five years ago when I was hip deep in wartime stories.”
“People were interested in that back then and what have you done since?”
“Exactly! You’ve got me covering boring local kitsch. I’m not a color commentator, I’m ajournalist and I expect to report on real issues!”
“I’ve given you important assignments,” Gary said, shrugging his shoulders. “You didn’t think the financial conference was a good step?”
“No, it was crap! I want in on something with some action. I want to talk to politicians or investigate medical policies...I want to work on a conspiracy. I want something with meat to it.”
“I can appreciate you’re hungry-”
Lilly rolled her eyes. “Cute.”
“-But...I expect you to behave like a professional. I know how you were taught in school because I helped come up with the curriculum. You don’t always cover the stories you want to. Sometimes, you have to write drivel for the masses. I throw you bones, just like this gas main thing. It’s not our fault if Channel six changed their minds.”
“But they own both papers! How could they decide to screw me when I work for them?”
“First off, it would be a hard sell to say they screwed you. You were out there, yes but nearly getting killed doesn’t mean you had a profoundly unique perspective to provide. Secondly, they do whatever they want and they want whatever is cheapest. The lady they got is younger than you are and half as talented. Do you feel better?”
“I’m supposed to be happy they’re patronizing me?”
“You can’t be sensitive and survive in our field, Lilly. You just can’t.” Gary leaned back in his chair. “You have to take the shit jobs and the great ones...and if one falls through, always have a backup plan. Channel six will come around again and since you were so keen to get in there fast, you’ll be at the top of the list. Until then, you know what to do.
“Your assignments are on your desk.”
“That’s fantastic. I can’t even believe this! It’s unfair!”
“Perfect. I can see the headline now.” Gary held up his hands as if framing the title. “Life is unfair, especially for journalists.”
“And now you’re mocking me.”
“Did you expect sympathy?”
“I suppose not...”
“And you’re done venting?”
“Good, then can we get back to work. Maybe we can try me being the boss and you the reporter. What do you think?”
Lilly rolled her eyes. “Is it in the editor job description to be a sarcastic ass?”
“Right up there with six years of college but they omitted having to put up with whiney writers. Go on now, get back to work.”
Gary hired Lilly after she got back from the Middle East. Her time there earned her the credibility to land a job at ModernAffairs, a magazine with a decent circulation and respected enough to be read in several states. Her work spanned from the marginally important to the outright silly but she needed the experience.
Part of her felt entitled to better. She had been through a lot to prove she was serious so having to interview a local novelty store owner or cover a farmer’s market attraction was insulting. The gas main situation wasn’t a big break but it sure as hell would’ve gotten her face and name out to a larger audience. Maybe I should get back to freelancing...there’s bound to be some trouble somewhere.
The dossiers on her desk were the traditional drivel of ModernAffairs. The name was a red flag when she accepted the position but after reading through several back issues, she realized Gary tried to balance the frivolous with the meaningful. She was hoping her track record would speak to which side she cared about.
When she started the job, it became clear everyone tried their hand at all the stories. Diversity was fun for a while but her passion for the news made it hard. She wanted big breaks and insider scoops, to expose things corporations tried to keep secret and bust shady deals.
One of her professors spent an ungodly amount of time urging his students to be crusaders with a pen. Never let up until you find the truth, no matter how raw it might be. That was his credo. Lilly believed there were limits to everything, including the truth. She defined integrity as knowing when to expose something, not just blindly running around with a spotlight to cast on people’s dirty laundry.
A wave of nausea hit her hard and she reeled, closing her eyes tightly and leaning forward. By the time it passed a couple people were staring at her and she offered a wan smile. “I’m okay,” she assured, mostly herself rather than them. “I think I might be a little shaken still by what happened yesterday.”
The explanation placated her neighbors and they began to commiserate with her, commenting about how awful it must have been. They flouted her bravery and a couple of them agreed they never would’ve gone into such a crazy situation. She’d heard it all before only the war stuff had some kind of meaning. A gas main blowing up was totally random.
The shock of it probably knocked her body into a premature period. That would explain the dizziness. Lovely…just lovely.
Lilly forced herself to stand up, ignoring the pain in her gut and the vertigo making her head swim. Her heels made the trip all the more treacherous. Fortunately, every step made her feel a little better, a little more herself. By the time she stepped into the lady’s room, she felt almost normal.
The Midnight Turn
Glamour & Shadows Book 4 202 pages
Genevieve St. Claire’s novel The Midnight Turn became a big hit when it was initially released. Her meteoric ride to genre fame brought her to various conventions, talk shows and workshops across the country. When a movie producer decides to option the book for a big budget movie, her head spins with the possibilities, especially since she can’t claim the rights to her first book, a well-known horror novel published in 1818…
Gen’s second dive into literature was inspired by her vampire creator, Christian Lark, an unpredictable and romantic figure she’s polished into something a modern audience can tolerate. Enter the proposed leading man, Jacob Moran, wizard and descendant of the Lark line. His semblance is uncanny, his youth intoxicating but there’s also Allan Taylor, the handsome screenwriter hired to adapt the book.
With half a dozen lives intermingling amidst the chaos of film production, The Midnight Turn explores a human experience through the eyes of the supernatural.
“I’m glad you made it, Mr. Martin.” Her voice was higher than I expected, more girlish as if she might not even be eighteen. Her smooth, perfect skin held no hint of wrinkle or blemish. Blue eyes sparkled with youth, alert but certainly naive. Her figure hid beneath the coat but thin shoulders made her look petite. “We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
“Then you’d better hurry up.” I drew my gun from under my coat and aimed it at her under the table. “As you can guess, I’m a busy man.”
“Not right now you’re not.” Her words ran together. “You just finished a job and are waiting for something else, right?”
“You really need to tell me how you know so much.”
“I’ve been looking for someone like you.”
I raised my brows. “What for?”
“I need help and you need information. I’m good at finding things out…like I can get you a lead about your sister.”
“About that.” I pulled the hammer back so she could hear it. “Let’s set a ground rule. Play games with me about Victoria and I’ll shoot you. Fair?”
Her cheeks paled but she nodded. “Of course. I have no intention of screwing with you.”
“Then tell me about this lead.”
“I don’t have it yet…but I know where to get all the information your people are lording over you. Honestly, I would’ve just picked it up and had it for you but my own problem has become much bigger…far worse than I ever thought it would. You’re a good man, Mr. Martin. I know you can get me through this.”
I smirked, looking around the diner. Whoever worked there didn’t seem to care much about added customers. The song started over again, like a record perfectly timed to skip to the beginning of the track. The environment distracted me long enough to decide how to reply to her, especially since she proved to know so much. How’d she get my morality wrong?
“So you sent me an email listing some of my greatest hits,” I said, “and you think I’m a good person?”
“I’m not sure that was a proper choice of words,” she muttered.
I shrugged. “Accurate, if not intentional.”
“Anyway, yes! In my heart, I believe you are good. You knew what Lark wanted was wrong so you skipped out and you’re only doing this job because they told you they would find Victoria.”
“So now you want to leverage the same information to get something. Have you stopped to think the only reason they’re still alive is they have powerful friends and people who would miss them?”
She looked down and shivered. “Mr. Martin, I think I can give you what you want and you can definitely help me. I don’t want to black mail you, I want to…to partner with you. Will you at least hear me out?”
Dark Side of the Vale
Glamour & Shadows Book 5
A Messy Crime
A seemingly normal family is murdered, their home turned into a horrifying scene of torture and chaos. Their deaths follow a pattern, an extreme version of three serial killers terrorizing the country. The Society steps in to explore any supernatural angle the case may present and begin to work with Special Agent Rebecca Marsh of a newly formed FBI group code named The Park. Versed in all manner of paranormal creatures, she is to act as an ambassador to ensure humans and monsters can work together.
Such a dramatic change comes as quite the shock to Incubus detective Algiers Stanton and his fairy partner Ophelia Dupre. They land the case and the task of playing politics with their new human colleague. After spending years ensuring humans never learn about them, this goes against everything they know but they’ll need all the help they can get to stop the murderers before they strike again. For these fiends are not merely ending lives, they are collecting ingredients for a sinister plan, one which may destroy the world as we know it.
Fairy Tale Ending
Glamour & Shadows Book 6 214 pages
Desperation Breeds Obedience
Renard Martin lives a simple life. As a hitman for a Society bigwig, he takes on targets the former Cleaners used to handle. As a graduate of the infamous Lark sanctum, he’s a dangerous and irreverent person who has no desire to remain beholden to anyone. After his family was brutally murdered, he thought he lost them all but then he heard a rumor. His sister Victoria may still be alive and the vampire Marius Sontag promised to help him find her…for the price of becoming an assassin.
Belia Dellacroix never got to live for herself. The ward of an ancient vampire, every event of her existence has been carefully planned, governed and censored. This has not left her without guile, however and once she discovered the grim fate her guardian had in store for her, she took drastic action. Stepping out means incredible risk and so she turns to the only person she can in her carefully designed world: a certain Society hitman looking for something dear to him.
But will Renard prove too unpredictable and harsh for her needs? Holding leverage over his head might well be the most dangerous thing she’s ever done but desperate times call for desperate measures. Without him, she’ll be an unwilling sacrifice, killed for a chance to claim ancient power but if she can keep her protector on track and under control, she may just get the fairy tale ending she’s always hoped for.
The Lark Legacy
A Prequel to The Hermes Foundation Glamour & Shadows Book 7
Ruby Lark comes from a long line of curious and reckless wizards. Her father, Henry Lark, runs a strict sanctum where students are taught through a brutal curriculum of harsh consequences and cruelty. He seems to have some nebulous purpose for her in mind but his dispassion and formality have kept them apart, master and student instead of parent and child. With no friends, no recourse and no sanctuary, she steeled herself for a life of service to a cause she would probably never understand.
Mortimer Dampton started at the Lark Sanctum at the end of his education. A brash, charming wizard, he comes with a wealth of necromantic knowledge. Henry assigns him to partner with Ruby, who instantly takes a dislike to his overly familiar, roguish personality. But he may just hold the key to her salvation, even as he begins to defy the edicts of her father, sending them both on a course to their fates.
Robert Hazelton has been writing short fiction, novels and music his entire life. As the founding member of Deadly Nightshade Botanical Society and a long time member of the band Abney Park, he has traveled extensively and performed countless shows in exotic locales.
Robert writes in a variety of genres but keeps drifting back to modern fantasy/horror. He considers Elizabeth Moon, Frank Herbert, and Steven Pressfield to be his biggest influences.
The Urban Fantasy genre has been inundated with many great stories from hundreds (if not thousands) of fantastic writers. I’ve always found it fascinating but m first exposure to the idea of it came from the Shadowrun roleplaying game. My uncle gave it to me for Christmas. He did so because the original book was set in Seattle but what it did for me is open my mind to possibilities.
To that point, Elves, Dwarves and Orcs lived in the pages of fantasy novels. They were Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons and old school video games. They didn’t use handguns or computers, they weren’t in a modern world and while Shadowrun is set in a cyberpunk future, changing it up got me thinking.
I didn’t think much more about the genre until Vampire: The Masquerade came out. As a goth kid in the 90s, I became absolutely addicted to that game and as they came out with other monsters in the modern world, the urban fantasy genre unfolded for me. I started thinking of my own versions and the very first story I came up with was the basis for The Hermes Foundation. Much later, I started thinking about Glamour & Shadows.
So while that may be how I came to enjoy the genre of urban fantasy, I started writing in it because I loved playing with pop culture and monsters. Having them indulge in video games, movies and the types of things we find entertaining, all while dealing with their own intrigues, made it unique and fun. This is why Ophelia is an avid gamer and consumer of cinema.
Ultimately, I find it comfortable to write in the Urban Fantasy genre and I love playing with the real world and all that mysticism. It’s served me well for this series and the one offs I’ve put together as well. It affords me the opportunity to twist things up and make them unique all while building fresh stories with a tried and true mystery foundation.
A Fairy and an Incubus: How’d that happen?
When I set out to write Glamour & Shadows, the first thing that popped into my head looked a little bit like the movie Underworld. The main character was Beatrice, a serious British vampire who was all duty and responsibility. Her companion was a male fairy who loved fun and games, and had a penchant for seducing ladies.
I even went so far as to write the first chapter with those two and it didn’t click at all. I found it boring and contrived, enough so that I considered dropping it completely. I then followed advice I give to authors all the time: I started to twist it up. What I mean by that is to take a major fact about the story or characters and straight up change them to something else.
I thought what if the vampire bad ass is the fairy? Suddenly, I’ve got this vision of a fairy who’s all frivolous and silly but has a dark past, something that gives her depth beyond eating candy and annoying people. This meant she needed a partner still, someone who was the ‘straight man’ so to speak but I didn’t want to make it so obvious.
Algiers was born at that point and I made him an incubus. At this point, it could’ve turned into an erotic book but I wanted there to be challenges. First off, Algiers had a tragic event in his past that pushed him toward being a detective. Second, I didn’t want him and Ophelia to be together but a little tension was okay.
So I thought about a fairy and how they’re basically creatures of light (in my story at least). As a demon, he couldn’t really indulge in her essence and during intimacy, he can’t entirely control it. This makes her forbidden but desirable. The two of them become great partners, opposites but with common purpose.
When I started writing their story, it came out easily. In fact, my first draft was done in four days (and weighed in at over 100,000 words). I did a lot of trimming to get to the book we’ve got today and it’s spawned seven novels, 11 comics, and a radio drama. Not too bad for a book that I was on the verge of giving up on!
The key to writing
I have a freelance business where I help new authors work through their first books. This usually involves organizing their thoughts into something which isn’t daunting, giving them the best chance possible to finish their work. Truly, the hardest part is getting to the end, completing the last chapter and wrapping it up in a satisfying way.
However, we all know there are TONS of important steps between start and finish. Good sentence structure, an understanding of how to put together impactful paragraphs, dialogue and emotion…People tend to take these things for granted but there’s no ‘magic’ to it per se. I have just over 30 reference books on various aspects of writing and I tend to recommend them in different orders depending on where a person is in their overall skill.
If you’ve just started and don’t know where to begin, my first piece of advice is to learn how to organize and start small. Don’t jump in and try to write a full length novel your first time out. Complete a short story of fifteen hundred words. It will teach you more than you can possibly know.
You’ll walk away with an understanding of how to keep your descriptions concise and to the point, you’ll tell your story in the most direct way possible and you’ll develop good habits for your future. The big bonus is that you’ll have a completed piece of work at the end and it won’t cost you six months to a year.
When you’re ready to take the plunge to a longer project, be sure you’ve read some books and understand how to craft a plot, build characters, and tell the story properly. Even when you’re there, I recommend a novella length book. 20,000 words is a pretty big accomplishment and when you’ve done that, you’ll once again find yourself with a sizable piece that’s ready to be shared.
There are hundreds of other small things you should learn and do to be a writer but nothing beats reading other people’s books and practice. Study everything you find, emulate for a while then try new things. Try some poetry, read a play or listen carefully to the dialogue in a movie. Every piece of entertainment can be an inspiration or learning experience. Experience as much as you can and you’ll find yourself in a fantastic space to become a creator.
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