Of Spells and Fur by Valerie Evans Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
As the only known survivor of a horrific massacre years earlier, Molly Hastings has rebuilt her life as a dedicated member of the Anberlin sentries. It's her job to protect and police the supernatural citizens who call the town home, but the discovery of several bodies has put everyone on edge with no suspect in sight.
Further complicating matters are a call from the home she left behind and the sudden arrival of a werewolf motorcycle club with ties to her past. An unexpected ally is found with Parker Hayes, a hunter facing down his own demons and searching for a future not based in bloodshed, who inspires feelings she hasn't felt in years.
Amidst the clash between her past and present, Molly finds herself questioning everything she knows about not only those she's meant to protect but the Sentries themselves. Could everything she's been taught be a lie, and if it is, can she protect those she cares about?
Blood. The metallic scent in the air made her feel she would never outrun the snarls and howls that chased her through the woods. Logic pointed out the blood was on her so why wouldn’t they be able to follow? A blink to clear her vision had blood sliding down to replace the sweat beading along her brow. It made her eyes burn but swiping it with the back of her hand was useless. Blood and grime coated her fingers, almost as much as the palms. A sharp pain stabbed through her stomach, forcing her to double over. One hand braced against her stomach in an attempt to comfort her unborn daughter except the familiar kick didn’t come. She bit back a sob and pushed herself up, beginning to hobble along to the best of her abilities. Her lips moved in a silent prayer, aware of the blood running down her arm in fat globs from the torn mess of her shoulder. The sound of a triumphant howl raised goosebumps on her flesh as she stumbled forward. Oblivious to the rocks and sticks stabbing the tender soles of her sock-clad feet, she stumbled on and tried to dismiss the sound of running paws and menacing growls that seemed to surround her. A light. It was faint and distant but ever closer as she ran. Her chest burned with pain, her feet ached, and her own fear threatened to choke her. Blood continued to drip into her eyes, from her shoulder, and onto the ground in a visible trail; however, she had neither the strength nor the time to bother hiding it as her stomach was assaulted with a fresh wave of pain. Stumbling out of the tree line, she darted toward the house. Every muscle she possessed screamed with agony and her toes burned with numbness from the cold night air. It took everything she had to stumble onto the porch, a hand still searching for a sign of life from her daughter except she felt nothing. Where there had once been a solid, reassuring kick against her fingers, she felt nothing. A rough sob escaped as she managed to close her blood-stained fingers around the edge of the screen door. It swayed under her touch, slamming the door jam as her hands fell away, and she sank down with a cry of pain.
“Help.” The word came out a hoarse croak as she curled up, forehead against the cool wood and arms curled against her stomach, though the ability to stay conscious became difficult while the door began to open. “Please, help . . . the baby’s coming . . .”
Valerie Evans is a modern fantasy addict living in Georgia who finally took the plunge to self-publish her first novel after nearly seven years. She is the author of The Anberlin Chronicles series and the forthcoming Wolves of Worsham series. In her free time, she likes to read all genres with a focus on fantasy, entertain her very clingy dog, and collect Funkos pops plus journals.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I'm actually currently working on a 5-part series involving a side character from Of Spells and Fur with the first book scheduled to be released summer 2021. Without spoiling the events of the book, this character comes from a single-species town and left his family over a decade earlier following some traumatic experiences. His decision to return home forces him to face not only the family he abandonded, but the woman whose heart he broke.
The other four books will focus on his siblings dealing with their own species-based issues and meeting significant others.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I've always loved writing and have several short stories my mother has kept over the years. Of Spells and Fur is actually my fourth published work, though the world of Anberlin where Of Spells and Fur is set began taking shape in 2012 with the book that would become Kindred Spirit. Following a conversation with my sister in January of 2020, I took the plunge to self-publish the original Anberlin trilogy over the first half of the year while working on Of Spells and Fur. It still feels surreal sometimes, but I'm excited to continue on this journey and introduce more people to my worlds.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Of Spells and Fur?
Molly Hastings was born into a family of supernatural hunters, but she walked away after a tragedy and became the equivalent of a supernatural police officer called a sentry in Anberlin. She's known for being somewhat stand-offish, work obsessed, and anti-werewolves, though it's a limited group who know anything about her past beyond the hunter part.
Parker Hayes was also born into a family of supernatural hunters, though he made some questionable choices and got himself disowned. He wants to join the Sentries, but his habits of drinking, getting into fights, and causing trouble around town don't exactly make him an ideal candidate.
What is your writing process?
I have a somewhat chaotic writing process since I start with an idea that includes characters, antagonists, and the basic outline of a plot. I always write the first chapter freehand to see where the flow is and get a feel for the main character, but I generally outline events that come to me and can span anywhere from a single chapter to several. Then it's just a matter of rinse and repeat! Sometimes random scenes pop in my head so I'll write them out then have to figure out where they belong later on.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I normally feel in control, but Molly did a little hijacking with Of Spells and Fur. I had a plan then she went, "but what if . . ." and I ended up loving the direction things went. It ended up giving me extra work and having to scrap some scenes that I'd originally written, but I do feel like the story is stronger and more character-focused with the change.
Do you read yourself and if so what if your favorite genre?
I try to read whenever possible, but I admit that I don't always get to read as much as I'd like. My favorite genre is the urban/contemporary/modern fantasy genre because I love seeing magic and the paranormal world brought into the regular world.
Do you believe in writer's block?
I am a full believer in writer's block, but I also think it's important to not let it be an excuse. When writer's block strikes, I throw myself into creating playlists or graphics to reawaken that excitement for the story and hear the characters' voices again. It's almost always successful, and usually when it isn't, I realize there's a structural or plot problem that needs to be address before I can keep going with the story.
Advice they would give to new authors?
Write the story you want to read. It might not always be the most current or in-demand story, but I think it's more important to be passionate about what you're writing than going with what you think will sell or get the most readers. Someone's waiting for your story so why disappoint them by turning out what everyone else is doing?
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