I’m the Elizabeth Noble half of Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and Elizabeth Noble. Thank you for joining Genre Talk today on The Novel Approach Reviews and DSP Publications author Caleb James so we can learn some tasty tidbits about Caleb’s newest release Haffling.
Haffling is an urban fantasy with all the good things included, drama, action and of course our favorite mythical beings. Caleb was kind enough to answer some questions.
First a little about the book:
Haffling All sixteen-year-old Alex Nevus wants is to be two years older and become his sister Alice’s legal guardian. That, and he’d like his first kiss, preferably with Jerod Haynes, the straight boy with the beautiful girlfriend and the perfect life. Sadly, wanting something and getting it are very different. Strapped with a mentally ill mother, Alex fears for his own sanity. Having a fairy on his shoulder only he can see doesn’t help, and his mom’s schizophrenia places him and Alice in constant jeopardy of being carted back into foster care.
When Alex’s mother goes missing, everything falls apart. Frantic, he tracks her to a remote corner of Manhattan and is transported to another dimension-the land of the Unsee, the realm of the Fey. There he finds his mother held captive by the power-mad Queen May and learns he is half-human and half-fey-a Haffling.
As Alex’s human world is being destroyed, the Unsee is being devoured by a ravenous mist. Fey is vanishing, and May needs to cross into the human world. She needs something only Alex can provide, and she will stop at nothing to possess it… to possess him.
Elizabeth: Tell us about your genre.
Caleb: My Caleb James books—and my real name is Charles Atkins, and I’ll get to that—are urban fantasies. For the most, this means they’re set in the real world, and include paranormal elements. In the case of Haffling we have three worlds: modern day Manhattan, the Mist, and the Unsee.
Elizabeth: Tell us about Haffling.
Caleb: Haffling is a classic hero story told in the voice of Alex Nevus, a sixteen-year-old boy, struggling to keep his family together. With a mentally ill mother, and a younger sister who attracts way too much attention, Alex is at war with a social service system that wants to break them apart. It’s happened once, where he and his sister, Alice, were separated and placed in foster care. The results were devastating and he’s not going to let that happen again.
While the early history is told through backstory, it lets the reader know that Alex, while moral, will do anything—including kill—to protect those he loves.
Elizabeth: Tell us how you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
Caleb: In all my books, and I’ve been writing and getting published for nearly twenty years, I want heroes who are outside the mainstream. For me, the challenge is to place diverse and uncommon characters, inside genre fiction. While the protagonist may be gay, it’s not a gay book. As in real life, our sexuality, hair color, and favorite ice cream are a piece of who we are, they don’t define us.
And…it’s important to have quality fiction with LGBTQ protagonists.
Elizabeth: Haffling is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Haffling and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
Caleb: While Haffling contains a beautiful love story between Alex and Jerod, it is definitely a paranormal novel/urban fantasy along the lines of books like The Golden Compass or TV series, such as Grimm, or Once Upon a Time.
In the case of this series, the world I created, and when we fall down the rabbit hole from modern-day Manhattan to the Unsee, is based on Irish folklore.
Elizabeth: Do you write in different genres and if so how difficult is it to do?
Caleb: I write in several genres and under different names. As Charles Atkins, I’ve published mainstream murder mysteries, psychological thrillers and a single paranormal, entitled Go To Hell, which is a modern parable about the whorish relationship between physicians and the drug companies.
I’ve also had three recent murder mysteries as Charles Atkins, with two older women protagonists who fall in love, and solve crimes in Connecticut. As everyone knows most major crimes are solved by amateur sleuths. The first of these was Vultures at Twilight, and the most recent, Done to Death, was a Lambda awards finalist.
Sometime I add the MD to my name, trust me I’m a doctor, and these are either plain-speak books about mental illnesses, such as The Bipolar Disorder Answer Book, or textbooks for clinicians, such as my recently published, Co-occurring Disorders: The Assessment and Treatment of Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders. And yes, that’s a mouthful.
Caleb James was created to keep readers clear that what they’re about to read is different from either a Charles Atkins, or Charles Atkins, MD book.
Elizabeth: What sort of research did you need to do?
Caleb: Lots of books on Irish Folklore, starting with some gorgeous stuff by W.B. Yeats. Beyond that, some fun trips through Manhattan, including a harrowing expedition, with my friend and editor, through Fort Tyron Park and the Cloisters in the midst of a blizzard.
Elizabeth: What projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
Caleb: I have two new DSPP Caleb James books in the works. The next one out—Dark Blood—is another urban fantasy, albeit more of a medical thriller on the border with horror. That comes out in June 2016, and will be followed by the second in the Haffling series, entitled, Exile. The third and final book for the Haffling storyline is swimming in my head.
Caleb, thank you so much for joining us today. Your books sound absolutely wonderful and they’ll be on my reading list for sure!
As always, thank you to our readers for your continued support. Please check out all of Dr. Atkins’s books.
Caleb James is a pen name for Charles Atkins, a psychiatrist who lives in Connecticut. He lectures on a broad range of topics, has written over a dozen books—both fiction and non-fiction—and is a member of the Yale Medical School volunteer faculty.
Our next victim—erm I mean guest—is Clare London! She’s always got something great to say and you don’t want to miss her interview.
Until next time Happy Reading!
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