Category Archives: Friday Follow

Blog Tour Post: Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson (Book Review)

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This book review is part of the New Orleans Reading Challenge 2013, hosted by Midnyte Reader, which you can read more about here.


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Elysian Fields (Book 3, Sentinels of New Orleans)
by Suzanne Johnson
$17.58 (hardcover, Amazon) | $15.79 (Amazon Kindle)
Tor Books
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Hardcover, 352 pages
Review copy received as part of the blog tour for Bewitching Book Tours. Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads giveaway that’s running until August 31, 2013.

Plot Description:

An undead serial killer comes for DJ in this thrilling third installment of Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series.

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combatting an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.

Review:

To say that I was dying to read the next installment of Suzanne Johnson’s highly addictive Sentinels of New Orleans series would be a gross understatement. After the events of River Road (you can read my review here), I was really antsy to find out what happens next and this book more than delivered.

Our protagonist, DJ Jaco, starts off in the French Quarter with increasingly volatile and troubled loup-garou Jake. They’re investigating a crime scene as a series of murders has been happening in the city that resemble killings committed in 1918-1919 by a serial killer who was never identified, but the local media called him the Axeman of New Orleans.

Things have (understandably) cooled down a bit between DJ and Jake because of his changing nature. The shift to loup-garou has had many negative effects on his life and he’s lashing out more and more at those closest to him. Jake is even moodier this time around and everyone expects him to still be the same easygoing, flirtatious guy he was before, but he’s not and he is having a hard time accepting that. I won’t spoil what happens after a sour confrontation between the two, but suffice it to say it kicks DJ’s life into overdrive and makes life even more complicated for her, as if she needs any more complications.

She summons famed jazz musician Louis Armstrong to help her with any clues about the Axeman, and it becomes evident that he didn’t just show up for no reason in the present day. There’s a shady necromancer working some seriously evil magic to shuttle the murderer back and forth from the past to the present. Soon enough, DJ becomes one of the Axeman’s most important targets, which makes things even worse for her.

DJ’s suspicions toward her best friend Eugenie’s boyfriend, Quince Randoph, continue in this book and we finally get some more answers as to what he is, what he’s doing, and what he wants with DJ. He also shamelessly flirts with DJ at every opportunity, much to her chagrin, as DJ is more interested in her former partner Alex Warin. Things intensify between them and for those readers who have been waiting for more to happen in DJ’s love life, they won’t be disappointed.

In addition, the Wizards Congress sends one of their guys, Hoffman, to teach her more Elven magic. Trouble is, he doesn’t like DJ very much and may be hiding more than he lots on about where his true loyalties lie. Fan favourite Jean Laffite also returns, as charming as ever. He thinks he can help DJ with looking into the necromancer doing the summoning of the Axeman. There’s also a major vampire character we’re introduced to, Etienne, who we’re told is in cahoots with Jean as they go way back. Etienne used to be a necromancer, but as the plot unravels more and more, it’s not necessarily clear if he’s the one behind the Axeman’s killing spree, but the author casts enough doubt on him that the reader will not be sure if he’s guilty or innocent until the very end.

As the story continues, the body count rises, and the Axeman gets ever closer to DJ. The tension between DJ, Eugenie, and Quince Randolph also increases until it finally blows up, but the reader will get a lot of interesting answers from the fallout.

If you were waiting for more explanations and an exploration of DJ’s Elven heritage and connections, this installment in the series is going to be your favourite. Although I’ve previously said in other reviews that one doesn’t see much of Elves in urban fantasy fiction, I think we’re starting to see more of them, and although I wasn’t expecting to find them in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, it’s a nice treat, and the storyline absolutely works.

The further into the narrative the reader gets, the more irresistible and unputdownable this book will be. Eventually things come to a head with the true master of puppets coming out, but he lackey strings are incredibly tangled, which will make the inevitable books that follow this series even more addictive than this one. Things end on a more positive note although, as mentioned, there’s definitely potential for more books in the series. If you haven’t picked up this series yet and you’re a big urban fantasy fan, or even if you don’t normally read fantasy but love a good yarn involving the Crescent City, you should most definitely pick up the books in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, and so far, each one is better than the one that preceded it. Suzanne Johnson has become one of my absolute favourite fantasy writers–this lady knows how to spin a good yarn ;-)

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Guest Post: Sephera Giron

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The following is a guest post from horror scribe Sèphera Girón, whose chilling novel Mistress of the Dark was the first modern horror novel penned by a woman that I read, featuring one of the most sadistic, twisted, and memorable female protagonists in the form of Abigail Barnum. Sephera and I were on the “Social Media for Writers” panel that I moderated this past June in New Orleans at The Bram Stoker Awards™ Weekend 2013 incorporating the World Horror Convention, which she added many great insights to.

Here is a guest post detailing her experiences at this year’s con and some good advice for those who are thinking of attending future ones.


The Bram Stoker Awards™ Weekend 2013 incorporating the World Horror Convention

When I heard that World Horror and the Stokers were going to be combined in New Orleans, I knew I had to go. After all, I was born in New Orleans and had never been back since I was an infant. I attended the very first World Horror in Nashville in the nineties. In fact, I attended pretty much every World Horror except a couple right up until I was a Toastmaster in Toronto in 2007. I even went to one pregnant with my second son, Dorian. They were such a blast and the only reason I’ve not attended in recent years has been because of finances.

I’ve also attended many Stoker banquets and award ceremonies over the years. The last Stoker Weekend I attended was in Burbank in 2010 to receive the Silver Hammer Award.
So it’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to see my friends, peers, editors, and publishers. All of these exciting ideas combined into a fabulous weekend experience for me. It was a tough juggling act to attend the convention and see the sights of New Orleans but I believe I managed to fit a lot in.

My main con duties involved working registration for a few hours, being on a Social Media panel, working the HWA booth for an hour, reading my poem from The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, autographing books at the mass signing, attending the Samhain cocktail party, rocked rocking out to Heather Graham’s band and party, attending part of the HWA annual meeting, and watching parts of other panels. I also hung out at the bar to network before the siren song of Bourbon Street lured me back out again. I also went on a graveyard tour Friday morning that consisted mostly of con attendees.

Outside of the con, I spent the rest of my waking hours exploring the neighbourhood, something that isn’t always possible at cons. At some cons, you are put into a hotel far from anything and you really can only do the con. This con was the type where you are plunked right in the center of a cool city so you tend to only do the most important con things while taking in the sights and sounds of a new city.

You may have relatives and friends who wonder why you would invest so much money into a con. There really is nothing that can compare to putting names to faces. Even when I was sight-seeing, I mostly went out with a pack from the con, and different people every time. Bonding over graveyards and dance clubs also makes for building relationships that you will carry forward for years. You can’t share those kinds of experiences through email.

In looking back over more than twenty years of World Horrors, it’s no wonder that I knew so many people and fell into a step that felt so familiar despite my many years away.
Conventions offer a chance to network with working professionals and learn how to carve out your own niche in your craft. You can go to pitch sessions, attend panels, learn skills at workshops, get autographs from your favourite authors and even talk to them for a while.

Having drinks with famous editors and agents whether at a party or a bar can’t be beat. When you attend cons, you will meet many people who may or may not be able to help you propel yourself forward. The aspiring little fan you meet this year might become head of a major publishing house in five years. However, the best outcome from a con is creating memories and relationships that will last a lifetime.

Always be polite, try not to harass your idols but don’t be afraid of them either since most people in the horror field who attend cons are friendly and approachable.
Another interesting element of this con was the haunted hotel where we stayed. The Hotel Monteleone is a notorious hotspot for spirit sightings and most con guests had some sort of story to tell. There were shaking beds, shaking chandeliers, laughter and screams, foggy patches, and I myself even caught a glimpse of an apparition on the rooftop level at dawn.

You can find my stories on my blogs and I’ll likely be adding a few more. Here are links to the stories I’ve posted so far: link 1 | link 2 | link 3 | link 4 | link 5 | link 6

On Bourbon Street, I discovered my roots. I finally understood why I like to dance all the time. How civilized to have live bands playing constantly so that you can go in and dance as you wish and then get on with your day. You wouldn’t need to ever go to the gym. I returned to several bars to dance, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a pack.

The draw at the end of every evening was The Dungeon which was decked out like a dungeon but laughable compared to the hard core fetish dungeons in Toronto. It had two floors and loads of heavy metal. There was a jukebox where you could pick a tune or you could make a request from the deejay. We all danced and swooped and bonded in a way that isn’t possible on Facebook.

As well as understanding my urge to dance, the tarot readers also intrigued me. The voodoo shops, vampire store, and more all rendered various vibrations through me. There was one voodoo shop I visited the first night while wandering around with a giant cup of bourbon sour that I wanted to return to in order to purchase a couple of small items.

When I returned the next day, I had to leave the shop quickly. A wave of nausea and a pounding headache had suddenly befallen me. It cleared up after I left the shop and wandered around some more. At the time, I figured it was a long delayed hangover, after all, I’d seen the sun come up that day, but the way it vanished again led me to believe it was related to the voodoo shop. I had browsed several voodoo shops before that one with no ill effect. So I wasn’t certain what it might have been that was in there that I shouldn’t be around.

Each time I passed that shop on my adventures over the next few days, I’d get an uneasy sensation, of someone or something watching and waiting for me. I attempted to enter one more time but partway up the steps, I decided to turn away.

Ask anyone who knows me what I’m all about and how I’m perfectly matched with my birth city. I’m the girl who loves to dance and throw beads, have a few drinks, hang out with friends, read tarot, cruise graveyards, bond with ghosts and my son could tap dance on the streets to earn a living as well. Living in New Orleans would not be a stretch for this fun-loving city girl.

The vibe in New Orleans is different than any I’ve experienced. I’m not a huge traveller but I’ve been to Manhattan and San Francisco many times and they too, have a distinct vibe. The vibe in New Orleans was a familiar echo that called to me. My birth place was resonating with my bones. Business connections went smoothly, although I didn’t see everyone I wanted to which happens when there’s hundreds of people to see.

Magic connections were made, like minds dancing together in lively conversation and then flitting off to meet with another. Coincidences and kismet abounded. The karma wheel turned. I lost my favourite sunglasses and lo, there they were at the front desk lost and found. Combining a horror convention with the carnival atmosphere of Bourbon Street was a great idea. So much has inspired me, from the ghost sightings to panels to cocktail parties with friends that I’m going to be drawing from the resonance of this fabulous experience in many stories for years to come.

Next year, The World Horror Convention is in Portland, Oregon. You really should attend if you are serious about building connections in your career. Sign up for as many pitch sessions and workshops as you can. When you get there, talk to everyone about everything. If you see me, talk to me! Go to as many panels as you can and take notes. Your experience will be priceless. You will build memories and new friendships that will last you a lifetime. Most importantly, you will realize you are not alone in this crazy business. You do indeed have a tribe.

sephera gironBio: Sèphera Girón is the award-winning author of over 15 published novels and many short stories. She received the “Marty” in Established Literary Category from the Mississauga Arts Council and a “Silver Hammer” from the Horror Writers Association.

She’s a professional tarot counsellor and writes horoscope columns. Her latest hobby is paranormal investigator! Sèphera also dabbles in acting and appears as “Ruby” in the movie, SLIME CITY MASSACRE. You might also catch a glimpse of her as an extra in THE LOVE GURU and a few other movies. One of Sephera’s day jobs is editing books for other people. Her books include House of Pain, Mistress of the Dark, The Birds and the Bees, Borrowed Flesh, Eternal Sunset, The Witch’s Field, Weird Tales of Terror and many more. For more information, you can visit her website, find her on Twitter, or find her on Goodreads.


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Friday Fright Feature: Book Review – The Lords of Salem by Rob Zombie

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Lords of Salem
by Rob Zombie and B.K. Evenson
Grand Central Publishing
$14.66 (Hardcover) | $10.88 (Paperback) | $12.95 (Kindle Edition)
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Review copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Browse Inside this Book!

The Lords of Salem movie comes out April 19, 2013. For the official movie website, click here.

Plot Description:

Heidi Hawthorne is a thirty-seven-year-old FM radio DJ and a recovering drug addict. Struggling with her newfound sobriety and creeping depression, Heidi suddenly receives an anonymous gift at the station-a mysteriously shaped wooden box branded with a strange symbol. Inside the box is a promotional record for a band that identifies themselves only as The Lords. There is no other information.

She decides to play it on the radio show as a joke, and the moment she does, horrible things begin to happen. The strange music awakens something evil in the town. Soon enough, terrifying murders begin to happen all around Heidi. Who are The Lords? What do they want?

As old bloodlines are awakened and the bodies start to pile up, only one thing seems certain: all hell is about to break loose.

Review:
From musician-turned-writer-slash-director Rob Zombie comes a supernatural thriller, The Lords of Salem, which is a novel and has a movie version, as well. The story kicks off in Salem, Massachussets in 1692 at the peak of the witch trials, which have been the subject of countless novels, movies, and documentaries (for a list of those, click here). It’s always difficult and in some cases near impossible to put a new twist on a tried-and-true, well-worn plot convention, event, or genre creature, particularly in the cases of the Salem Witch Trials and Satan. In Lords of Salem, neither of them are depicted in a particularly fresh or innovative manner. They do pretty much what horror fans expect of them. If you’re looking for clever, nuanced horror, you won’t find it here, but fans of Rob Zombie’s work want a more “in your face”, familiar approach to horror that will guarantee them thrills and chills, and this book definitely doesn’t lack either.

The “revenge” motif is perhaps one of the most overused with Salem Witch Trial tales, usually taking the point of view of the wronged and innocent women accused of witchcraft who were tortured and killed, or from those who actually really were witches according to the story, and were caught and executed, vowing to return and wreak havoc on the descendents of those that wronged them. The Lords of Salem is of the latter variety, starting off with a prologue in which Mistress Morgan leads a coven of Satan-worshipping witches who brutally eviscerate a pregnant woman for their “Master” until they get caught by a band of witch hunters, including Hawthorne, who witness Morgan become possessed by Satan, vowing to take revenge on Hawthorne’s descendents for what he did to them.

We then flash forward to the present day with Heidi (short for Adelheid), Hawthorne’s descendent in question, who the witches soon find. She works at a radio station, which reinforces the connection between Rob Zombie and music (and the rest of the text is peppered with musical references, as well as using music cleverly to tie it to demonic appearances), along with Herman, nicknamed “Whitey” despite his race and size. It’s not long before Heidi starts seeing things, including what she swears is a figure standing outside apartment 5 in her building. But when she questions her landlady, Lacy, about it, the woman informs her that there’s no one there. Although the pacing slows a bit toward the middle, things pick up when the demonic entities Mistress Morgan promised would come after Heidi stay true to their word and begin to torture her through dreams, mental images, and physical acts. There’s quite a bit of violence and sadistic sexual acts depicted here, so more squeamish readers may want to sit this one out.

The novel, although written in a generally good narrative style, reads much like a movie tie-in, and is cinematic to a large degree, and although it makes for a rollicking good time for die-hard horror buffs, I’m almost tempted to say it’s better to watch the film, although if you read the book, it sets up a nice preview of what you can expect to see on the big screen when the movie comes out, which can perhaps enhance the movie viewing experience. Although it’s plain to see where the book is headed from the beginning, the ride to get to the end is an interesting one.

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Guest Post: Infernal Machines Blog Tour

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Hey y’all, my name is Will Millar. If you happened to read Infernal Machines and were wondering who was responsible for unleashing it into the world, look no further. Thanks for letting me come on to this site and ramble for a little while. I’ll get you guys back to your regularly scheduled programming in no time at all.

I originally wanted to do kind of a top 5 list, but there’s so much incredible stuff out there that I would be doing the Horror world a disservice even trying to quantify what’s what. So instead, I want to simply focus on some great works that directly inspired my story.

#5: Off Season by Jack Ketchum

About halfway through Infernal Machines, there’s an indirect reference to the Sawney Beane clan, which some folks may recognize as the very real band of Scottish cannibals that Ketchum’s seminal masterpiece was based upon. I put the reference in there on purpose, as kind of an “Easter Egg” for hardcore horror fans. Also, while his brand of super-realistic (and unflinchingly graphic) horror is different to my own approach to the genre, Ketchum is one of those people who I’ve not only read, but out-and-out studied.

I believe the genius of Jack Ketchum is not so much in his ability to paint completely real, fucking absolutely terrifying pictures of humanity at its worst, but in the way he draws you in to the world he’s describing. You root for his more sympathetic characters, even as you know the best they can usually hope for is a quick death. And while his villains are more, well, fucking villain-y than anything this side of Edward Lee’s City Infernal, they are nonetheless compelling in all of their 3-dimensional, fully realized glory.

#4: Ghost Story by Peter Straub

“Start at the beginning” is something you hear a lot when it comes to the basic structure of telling a story, but in most cases with a story as large and complex as your average novel, that’s a whole lot easier said than done. Straub, who is out-and-out my favorite writer by far, took this axiom for Ghost Story, and he beat the hell out of it, stole its lunch money, and then kicked it a few more times for good measure.

Ghost Story actually starts about 30 pages before the novel’s chronological conclusion and then tells a story through a series of flashbacks, half-remembered fables, and jarring cuts in perspective, piecing together a series of events that stretches across the span of almost a century, with no fewer than 5 protagonists sharing the spotlight. There’s absolutely no reason you should have a clue what’s going on, and yet Straub manages to make the whole thing work.

#3: Salem’s Lot/Jerusalem’s Lot/One for the Road by Stephen King

While I realize that some folks who are regular readers of my blog are probably rolling their eyes at this point and wishing I would stop talking about Salem’s Lot, all I can say in response is this: Someday I will be dead, and it’s more likely than not that on that day I won’t have anything more to say about the subject.

It was the first real horror story that ever captured my interest, and while my earliest exposure to the tale was through Tobe Hooper’s excellent screen adaptation, a few years later I read the novel and it was all I could do to keep my head from exploding from the sheer awesomeness of it all. Not only that, but SL led me to Night Shift & Jerusalem’s Lot, which of course led me to H.P Lovecraft, and you can pretty much take it from there. 30 years later, I still read the book and its related shorts about once a year and find new things to marvel at.

#2: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

If Salem’s Lot took over the reins of my imagination from any other work of fiction, it was Ray Bradbury’s dark masterpiece. These two books could represent the Yin and Yang of my subconscious mind, with Barlow and Straker occupying the dark end, and Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show taking up the… uh, other dark end, I guess.

In all seriousness, I owe a lot of the language and imagery of the Arthur Cardiff character and his Emporium of Majick and Wonder to that traveling circus, and I’d be lying if Stoner and Paulie didn’t bear even the slightest resemblance to Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway.

#1: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

About 7 or 8 years ago I tried (and failed) to write the Great American Vampire Novel. Having grown up with my Salem’s Lot obsession, and logging enough hours watching the Hammer vampire classics to recite at whim long lines of dialogue from Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, or Captain Motherfucking Kronos himself, I figured I had the chops. And so, after 2 and a half years of writing and re-writing, and peer editing and re-rewriting, and everything else that goes into the harrowing process of sculpting a huge mound of bullshit into some semblance of a coherent narrative, I was ready to show the world my work!

To say that it sucked would be paying it a complement. I called it Hell’s Deliverance, which makes about as much sense as the story itself – which was kind of a mash-up of bad Lovecraftian pastiches and Breaking Bad fan fiction, minus Walter and Pinkman, with some vampires thrown in almost as an afterthought. If that sounds cool to you, it’s only because I boiled it down to about 40 words, as opposed to the original 350 pages.

But I learned a lot about what goes into writing a semi-decent novel by writing the dreaded 1st novel. For my second attempt, I figured I would ditch the vampires and do an homage to Frankenstein instead. Infernal Machines, for better or worse, is what came out of that attempt.

I’ve had a lot of fun stopping by here today. Thanks a bunch for having me. And to those of you who have read the book and supported it so far, you have my eternal gratitude. Catch you on the flip side

—Will

 

Infernal Machines

Infernal Machines Book CoverPaulie and Stoner aren’t bad seeds; they’re just a little too smart for their own good. They stole their first car in kindergarten, and as for the homemade rocket launcher in Stoner’s garage … well, it’s best just not to ask.

With 9th grade just around the corner, Paulie and Stoner find themselves on the wrong side of some real bad kids, an older band of white supremacists that go by the name of “Twisted Cross.” When a rumble at a high school keg party turns fatal, it sets off a chain of events that test the limits of Paulie and Stoner’s friendship, and their very sanity.

Welcome to Chapel Harbor, a town where everybody buries their secrets deep, and nobody is quite who they seem. A town where the ghost of a serial killer known as The Junkman is rumored to stalk the woods at night, and where an unassuming magic shop and its mysterious proprietor, Arthur Cardiff, may possess the key to an ancient and terrible evil.

Packed with hairpin turns and twists that will keep you guessing until the very last page, Infernal Machines is a blood drenched, adrenaline fueled, roller-coaster of a horror story that’s at once a paean to the Pulp Horror classics of the early 80’s and a meditation on the enduring power of friendship.

Available Now:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | France | Germany | Italy | Japan | Spain

Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple | Paperback

About Will Millar

Meet Will MillarWill Millar was raised in Commack, a quiet and unassuming town close to the northern shore of Long Island. As a kid, his primary passions were horror and hell-raising. As he tended to cultivate the latter to a greater extent than the former, by the time he was 17 years old, the whole town decided they’d had quite enough of his antics, and would he please just take his act on the road, thank you very much.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps, where his penchant for fire, explosions and general mayhem were tolerated, if not somewhat approved. At this point, Will also discovered the writers of the Beat Generation and began to write more consistently, submitting his less profane poems to underground ‘zines and belting out the more terrible stuff to unsuspecting audiences at various open mike nights throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Throughout the last 15 years, Will has worked as a writer in various mediums, though horror continues to remain his favorite. He sometimes contributes articles to Cracked.com, and his short stories are available in several different anthologies. Infernal Machines is his first novel.

At the present, Will lives in Phoenix AZ. He is a father of four, owns two dogs and has a wonderfully understanding girlfriend, all of whom somehow manage to put up with all of his crap.

Connect with Will Millar

Blog | Tumblr | Facebook | Twitter

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Darkeva’s Friday Fright Feature: Guest Post – Sarah Jane Lehoux

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On “Alpha Males” by Sarah Jane Lehoux (Guest Post)

You know what I don’t understand? Alpha males in genre literature. I just do not get it. It boggles my brain to the point that I resemble a cross between a baroo-ing dog and a constipated cat. Confusion overload.

It’s not that I don’t understand how attractive self-confident men are. I adore men who know who they are and what they want out of life. I love a man who will give his life to defend the people and the principles he holds dear.

I guess what I really don’t understand is how “alpha male” has become a euphemistic synonym for “abusive jerk” in recent popular books. SIDE NOTE: it’s one thing if the character is flawed and goes through change during the progression of the story, if that’s what the plot is centered around. But it’s quite another to glamorize his bad traits to the point that they are seen as virtues.

I’m not going to name names or anything. I think we all know what books I’m hinting at. These so-called alpha males are threatening, over-bearing, scarily jealous, and often say or do things that would make any social worker’s red flags go up. I mean, death threats? Stalking? Cutting the female protagonist off from her friends and family? Sex with murky consent? Ew! Ick! No!

When did controlling become acceptable behaviour? When did it become okay for a hero to emotionally (and sometimes physically) abuse his partner? When did we whitewash all this boorish machismo under the guise of “he’s so sexy”? To me, a sexy man is one who doesn’t have to control his partner. He respects them, because he respects himself. He treats his partner as an equal, not an object.

Take Revik, for instance. As one of the main male characters in The Sevy Series, Revik is a strong, confident man with a penchant for getting himself in trouble and a weakness for the ladies. But he’s also in touch with his (gasp, shock, horror!) feminine side. And no, that doesn’t make him a wimp. He can instill fear in the hearts of his enemies with just one, subtle lift of his eyebrow. He doesn’t have to stomp around like a sullen boy on the playground. He doesn’t DEMAND respect, he COMMANDS it. And when he is with his lover(s), he is kind when she needs a gentle touch, and take charge when she needs a little pick-me-up in the bedroom.

See, I think what so many writers and readers have forgotten or overlooked is that when we look at animal behavior (where we get the alpha male term to begin with), we see that alpha males are actually quite calm, self-assured individuals. It’s the males who are lower down in the hierarchy who are prone to violence and aggression. The alpha male protects what is his, but he doesn’t have to abuse his subordinates. Again, he commands respect. He is strong, capable, resourceful, and most of all, benevolent.

I think modern genre lit needs to rethink what they think of as an alpha male. We need to start celebrating male characters who can be mysterious without being manipulative, who can be in charge in the bedroom without being abusive, who can be man enough to trust his woman with all his heart and soul. After all, isn’t that the type of man we really want? Confident, sexy, self-assured, kick-ass, mischievous, playful, insightful, REAL men.

masquerade coverNever trust a liar, especially when they’re telling the truth
Starting over isn’t easy, especially when the world isn’t ready for you to change. Sevy, thief turned assassin turned mercenary, isn’t having any fun adjusting to a normal, law-abiding life. Luckily for her, an old partner in crime arrives with an irresistible proposition: a getaway to a tropical island, an adventure of a lifetime, and an amazing friendship ready to blossom into an even more amazing romance. Things are looking up for Sevy. That is, until a pack of maniacal fairies with a taste for human flesh arrive on the scene. Now she must unravel a web of magical intrigue hidden behind the outwardly idyllic atmosphere of the islands of Belakarta. Nothing is as it seems, and no one can be trusted. Trapped under the spell of a handsome and mysterious stranger, Sevy must fight fairies and tricksters to regain her freedom. Or spend an eternity as a sorcerer’s plaything.

About the Author:
Sarah-Jane Lehoux has always had a passion for storytelling. From grade school tales of cannibalistic ghosts, to teenaged conversations with God, to her rebellion against adulthood with fantasy kingdoms and fairy magic, she has attempted to share her love of the quirky and unconventional with her readers.

She currently resides in Southern Ontario with her husband and her horde of Machiavellian cats. In addition to her own writing, Sarah-Jane works as an editor and freelance cover artist. For more information, visit her website here.

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