Hello, I’m Elizabeth Noble. Thank you for joining us today for another Genre Talk on The Novel Approach Reviews. This week I have the pleasure of bringing you DSP Publications author, Amy Lane and her latest release Quickening Volume 1 which is part of the Little Goddess series.
Here’s a little bit about Amy’s book:
Cory thought she’d found balance on Green’s Hill—sorceress, student, queen of the vampires, wife to three men—she had it down! But establishing her right to risk herself with Green and Bracken had more than one consequence, and now she’s facing the world’s scariest job title: mother.
But getting the news that she’s knocked up takes a back seat when a half-elf hunts them down for help. Her arrival brings news that the werewolf threat, which has been haunting them for over a year, has finally arrived on their doorstep—and it’s bigger and more frightening than they’d ever imagined.
Cory throws herself into this new battle with everything she’s got—and her men let her do it. Because they all know that whether they defeat this enemy now or later, the thing she’s most afraid of is arriving on a set schedule, and not even Cory can avoid it. The trick is getting her to acknowledge she’s pregnant before she gives birth—or kills herself in denial.
Elizabeth:I know you write in a number of sub-genres, would you tell us about the genre for this book and series?
Amy: Well I usually write contemporary, but I cut my teeth on urban fantasy. Some people make a deal about the fact that the heroine has multiple lovers—but for me that’s not what defines the work. The world building, the ability to break authentic emotional ground by using the constructs of fantasy—these are the things that make urban fantasy important to me.
Elizabeth:Tell us about Quickening.
Amy: Quickening is the fifth in the series—and it’s literally been seven years in the making. The first book I ever (self) published was Vulnerable. It came out in 2005, but I started it in 2001—long before the urban fantasy boom. The first chapter of this story was written before Sookie Stackhouse was released, and the entire book was published 18 months before Twilight was published. I have a theory as to why suddenly urban fantasy was the thing—but for me, it was a quiet thing. I never expected people to even read it—and my editing was… embarrassing. Thanks to DSPP the entire series got a facelift, and this book is the cherry on the reclamation sundae. It’s a new story—when I left the series on sort of a cliff hanger—and I know a small but dedicated following is very happy to hear about it.
In this book, Cory, the Little Goddess of the series title, has finally found a balance among her three husbands—and has fully stepped into the power she discovered in the first book. The problem is, in order to harness that power you need a strong will—and she’s had to pitch her will against her sidhe lovers’ will in order to get them to recognize that.
This is a case in which sexual politics get a girl more than she bargained for. She broke their will—and she broke their birth control.
The last book ended when Bracken and Green—her sidhe lovers—sit her down to tell her she’s pregnant, and this book picks up right after. To say she doesn’t take it well would be an understatement… but she’s got other things to worry about. There’s been an enemy building throughout a series of smaller works (the Green’s Hill Werewolves) and now is the time for that enemy to attack. Cory has a lot to deal with—including not just what’s going on in her body but also what’s going on in her heart as she realizes that her children are the hope of all the people she loves.
Elizabeth: How would you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
Amy: My books have always had a thread of diversity in them—mostly because I populate them with “people from my neighborhood.” Yes, there’s diversity in species—vampires, werewolves, elves, fey, sorceresses, even some humans—wander around Green’s Hill, but one of the first characters introduced in Vulnerable was Arturo—the South American elf who came in and bought a six pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes every night from Cory when she was just a gas station clerk.
Arturo was based on a coworker I had when I managed a McDonalds down in the Bay Area—he was preternaturally beautiful and neither of us spoke the same language, but he was kind and a little amused at the kid in the manager’s uniform who kept telling him when he should take a break. (He was in his thirties and I was nineteen.) Like the other racially diverse characters in the story, these are people I knew at some time, interacted with, respected and cared for, and I wanted them to have a place in my imaginary life as they had in my regular life.
And as for heteronormative diversity? This book came out in 2005, and some of the language had to be updated, but one of the main points of the books is that love doesn’t always come in a heteronormative monogamous box. As long as the denizens of Green’s hill are sensual and consensual, they are welcome to live on the hill and make love—or not—as they please.
Elizabeth: Quickening is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for genre novels that don’t necessarily focus on or even contain romance. Tell us about the relationship in Quickening and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
Amy: Well, for one thing, it’s got a girl on the cover.
This book was written with a kickass heroine—and when I first started the series, I thought it was going to be Cory and her vampire lover. But then I met Green and realized that Adrian and Green—and Adrian and Bracken—had enjoyed long, non-monogamous relationships that were not heterosexual, and that Cory was going to have to deal.
Deal she did—but Green’s hill, which houses a whole lot of same sex and varied species relationships became sort of a haven for non-heteronormative folk, and that’s why it’s such a good fit for DSPP. Its primary focus is the urban fantasy—but it’s got a whole lot of sex and romance that tie into the plot. Sort of the best of all worlds.
Even with girl parts.
Elizabeth: Lightening Round!
Elizabeth: What do you do for fun? Do you have a pet who supervises your writing?
Amy: I knit, I take walks, I go places with my children. When I take walks, I bring my dogs (affectionately known as “the assholes”) and they also supervise my writing. They sort of suck at the writing part, actually—they bother me for pets, for snacks, for walkies, and they even bully me into naps because they want to hide under the covers of the bed and they know that’s when it’s best to do so.
I also have a couple of cats who supervise the writing. Steve the bitchy girl cat will stand on her hind legs and claw my thighs when I have neglected her too long. Newt-Dewey, my son’s long-haired gray cat just makes “meep” noises until we boop him—sort of like the snooze function on a clock radio. Gordie, my oldest daughter’s cat, hates me, has always hated me and refuses to admit I’m the human who feeds him. Asshole.
Elizabeth: Oh, gosh, those are adorable pets!
Elizabeth:How has your writing changed since you published your first book?
Amy:It’s funny—I think it’s gotten less poetic, but my nearest and dearest have assured me it’s become cleaner and more clear. I think it’s gotten less complex, but I’ve been told it’s less cluttered. I think it’s gotten less gritty and real, but people have told me they can actually breathe when they’re reading my books now and this is a good thing.
I guess, however you look at it, it seems to have grown.
Elizabeth: If you were writing your book today is there something you’d change or do differently?
Amy:I would have admitted I couldn’t punctuate dialog before I exposed it to the mockery of a zillion different people. But plotwise? No. The big bad that happened at the end of Vulnerable would still have happened. And all the things that followed as well.
Elizabeth:What goes into naming characters? Do the names have significance?
Amy:Oh my God yes! For Cory, I needed a name that could expand. I needed one that could be mistaken for a boy’s name because she had a boy’s attitude about a lot of things, and she’s been fighting sexism all her life. But it also needed to have softer, sweeter parts—and a surname that said not rich, and not worldly. Corinne Carol-Anne Kirkpatrick it was.
Her vampire lover, Adrian, needed to be fragile and wounded—and lovely. Adrian said all that to me and more.
Green, the leader of the hill had to be all that was good and growing, all that warmed us and gave us comfort in the day, and greenery in a drought ridden area is almost a magic color in itself.
Bracken, her other sidhe lover, is fractious and organic to the world he’s born in. He smells like earth and sunwarmed rock and has eyes the color of a pond in shadow (presumably with bracken submerged underneath.) His full name is Bracken Brine Granite op Crocken—and when he enters into the four-way relationship with Cory and her other two lovers, it becomes Bracken Brine Granite op Crocken Kestrel Green.
Nicky, her “accidental” lover (you have to read Wounded, the second one, to see how that happens) is playful and flirty and gamine. His alternative form is as a giant bird—a fierce fighter, but not grounded at all. Nicky—darling Nicky, as Green calls him—fits the bill perfectly.
All of them have the expanding last name—and when they’re on the hill they usually call each other by more of the name the madder they get. So when Cory has pissed one of her lovers off, they give her the full mouthful—“Corinne Carol-Anne Kirkpatrick op Crocken Kestrel Green.” Not even she can remember all of it sometimes.
Elizabeth:Do you write in different genres and if so how difficult is it to do?
Amy:I just spent over 1000 words comparing the two—but each genre requires a different understanding of the function, form, and purpose of the genre. After that happens, not so difficult.
Elizabeth: And because everyone likes to talk about what they’re doing the old standby: What projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
Amy: Well, Quickening Part 2 is coming out in June, and in July, my second Dreamspun Desire—Manny Get Your Guy is coming out. In late August, early September, we’ve got my romantic suspense, Red Fish/Dead Fish, and in October we have the re-release of The Green’s Hill Werewolves. Also in October, I have a new paranormal series debuting with Familiar Angel. Then, of course, we have my Christmas novella—Regret Me Not. This year, we’re releasing a paperback Christmas anthology with five of my previous Christmas stories that haven’t come out in paperback, and after that, we have Stand By Your Manny, the third book in the Mannies series on Dreamspun Desire. And I currently just broke paper on a long awaited Johnnies book, Bobby Green.
Elizabeth: Amy, thank you so much for being our guest today. As always. You’re so much fun! Thank you readers for tuning in and don’t forget the buy links and Amy’s info is after this rocking excerpt.
“Okay,” I said, grimacing. “What’s going on with Green?”
Bracken shook his head. “Weirdness,” he said on a sigh. “We are getting reports from… from everywhere. The wolves are multiplying; they’re getting bold. That phalanx we took on in Monterey was just a taste, I think. So Green has been planning some prep, mostly. Some magic things to maybe give us an edge.”
“So, like, what?” I asked, curious. The idea of magic being used for something not awful was something of a relief.
Bracken shook his head, rolling his eyes. “You are going to love this.”
A slow smile stretched my face. “Really?”
But I was really not excited at all about watching Bracken fly solo.
Pretty much all of the elves had the ability to fly—but the impetus? That was something else. What Green wanted was an edge—a way to use surveillance and maybe even a way to battle that would keep our people safe.
The vampires flew all the time.
The elves would learn.
So for a couple of weeks, we pretended.
We pretended my boobs didn’t hurt all the damned time and pretended I didn’t have to throw up every goddamned morning. We pretended the wolves weren’t out there approaching, encroaching, and that someone wasn’t driving them toward us with a sure and malevolent purpose.
And pretended that elves were just born fliers who could naturally swoop and dive like the vampires and the Avians, and none of the natural rules of gravity applied.
For two weeks nobody mentioned the babies, not even Nicky, and he shared my bed often enough to have to scoot out of the way when I ran to the bathroom in the mornings. Not even the vampires—they just pretended that blooding with me was suddenly not a big deal when it used to be like their favorite thing.
For two weeks I went out to the yard in front of the house and, under Green and Arturo’s able tutelage, summoned my power and lifted off the ground like I’d been flying all my life. And I watched Bracken, Lambent, Sweet, and a host of other elves lift off the ground like chipmunks wearing jetpacks in a Looney Toons short.
“Holy Goddess, Lambent, you are gonna fuckin’ kill—” I was flying backward to avoid him.
“Me!” Bracken screamed, and we collided midair and went tumbling to the ground in free fall.
I managed a power cushion under Bracken, and he bounced like a kid in a balloon house, rolling off the cushion and landing neatly on his feet. I went surging off the damned thing like Tigger on a trampoline, and by the second midair flip, I knew I wasn’t going to be okay when I hit the ground.
I poinged off the cushion until I lost momentum, then finally slid ungracefully to my knees and proceeded to throw up ignominiously on a giant azalea bush that was probably one of the lower feys’ great-grandmother or something.
I let the cushion die behind me and could have kicked myself when three other elves dropped out of the sky and plunged to the earth. I would have yelled at them for not warning me, but oh, hey, hello, there was something I’d eaten in the fifth grade, taking a hard exit.
The chorus of “Fuck!” “Jesus!” and “Godsbedamned cuntwhacking bitchtree!” (from Lambent) was lost in the sound of my own retching.
I was too tired by the time I was done to even apologize.
Green had to carry me back to the bedroom and clean me off and spell me to sleep. When I awoke, it was just Bracken and me.
I almost wished it was everybody. That might have made me feel better.
“Did anybody break something?” I asked, hiding my face.
“No. They were all wankers anyway—they shouldn’t have tried riding your power without warning you.”
I smiled weakly at Bracken. He was trying to be nice to me. Fantastic.
His pond-shadow eyes were focused exclusively on my face, and I felt the soreness in my body from getting so violently sick. “We’re going to have to tell everybody I’m pregnant.”
“Beloved, we told you before—they all know.”
Ugh. God. Yes. I just kept trying to wipe that fact from my mind. “I mean, we’re going to have to let them know I know.”
He grimaced and passed his hands over my stomach. It was bigger than it had been two weeks ago, and I had the tight clothes to prove it. My breasts were just as tender—and straining against the flowered cotton of my bra. If I hadn’t spent most of the summer in giant T-shirts and men’s gym shorts, my body would have been a dead giveaway.
“It doesn’t have to be a big announcement,” he said quietly. “Just, you know—”
“One of those conversations you can have behind my back so you all can decide what to say without pissing me off?” I hazarded.
He had the audacity to grin. “Whatever works, beloved.”
“No, that’s not what works,” I snapped, my mood shifting mercurially.
“Well, flying isn’t working either,” he said, unperturbed. “And you’re still doing that, right?”
“It’s going to work eventually!”
“But it’s putting you at risk!” And for the first time in my bitchy funk, he showed some temper. “And Green and I haven’t protested, not once, so maybe let us deal with the troops in a way that everybody’s comfortable with. We have good ideas too, you know?”
I took a deep breath and got hold of my hormones. “You’re right,” I conceded. “I’m sorry.”
He took a deep breath too, and for a moment we were back to the friction we’d had when he and Green had first told me about the… the physical changes I’d be undergoing.
The physical changes.
Then he relaxed like the peaceful zen we’d achieved afterward had never receded.
“Am I going to need a neck brace?” he asked sweetly. “For all the times you downshift that fast?”
I opened my mouth to say something suggestive—as well as filthy and rude—and in that moment, I got a flash of Green, skin to skin with someone I didn’t know. I frowned. “Who’s Green with?”
Bracken actually looked like he’d rather talk to my parents than answer this. Tough.
“One of the shape-shifters brought in someone who needs our help.” He shook his head and looked at me as though he was trying not to be mad. “We’re going to need to go on a run. Jack and Teague are still in Monterey, so you’re going to have to wait until the vampires wake up, and maybe snag some of the elves.” He sighed and ran his hands through his cropped, pine-tar colored hair. “Just try really hard not to get hurt this time out, okay?”
And I realized that, worry or not, he’d already conceded I’d go.
His words about taking care of myself for me returned, and I threw my arms around him, hugging tightly before he could swing his legs off the bed.
“I hate being hurt,” I said quietly into his ear. “I’ll do my best to stay safe.”
He melted into me for a second and kissed my temple.
“Thank you, due’ane.” The lover who was his equal. There were four of us bound together by blood, love, and magic, but Bracken was the only one who could yell at me and fight with me and dig in his heels with me like an equal.
He was asking me to make my own welfare equal to his.
“Love you, due’alle.”
Maybe I could do that after all.
Meet and Connect with Amy Lane
Amy Lane has two kids in college, two gradeschoolers in soccer, two cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and m/m romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.
Elizabeth: Next up we’ll be meeting Amy Rae Durreson and her fantasy book, Recovery.