Hero was originally written to be a novella to answer a call from Ellora’s Cave for stories themed around “drink.” I missed the deadline by five months and overshot by forty thousand words, but the whole concept of the story was this idea that a regular joe accidentally walked into a shifter bar, and they decided to have a little fun with him.
I can’t tell you how that turned out to be and the shifter hero is a house happened, except that’s pretty much how my brain rolls. Try to make it simple, and I will turn it upside-down, sideways, and ship it to Mars.
I know it was that I wanted to do something different, not your usual wolf or dragon. I think it was one of those ideas which, once planted, wouldn’t leave. I mean, physical transmutation so doesn’t logically work on a million levels in the practical, real world, so my brain thought, well, how can we dial that to eleven? But I loved the limitations of being a house. Talk about conflict—how could you leave, if you were a place? You can’t. I also know I liked the idea of being so literally inside a character—and in the case of Morgan, being trapped inside yourself. Since that was particularly how I felt about my life at the time, I think I was doomed the second the idea popped into my psyche.
The real secret, though, of why I was so gung-ho to do a story about a house-shifter was because I can read houses, and I believe whole-heartedly they have souls.
Houses, sadly, can’t transform into a human representation and walk around to talk with you, but I haven’t been in a building which didn’t tell me, immediately, how it felt. I can’t find a ghost if they lie in front of me, but buildings emanate feeling. House energy comes from the human energy living and working within it, and when the humans leave, the energy fades. My daughter’s barn has a solid, happy presence to it—an old happiness, one that weathers whatever comes through and lifts the spirits of the animals inside. New houses feel a bit stuck up and flat, like bottle blonds. Castles in Europe and old cottages make me ache for the reverberations. Concentration camps, even razed ones, make me vomit.
My current house had been empty over a year when we bought it, and it felt quiet and stale. Yet there was this deep, aching sadness to it, and a quiet sense of injustice, that it felt it derserved better and hadn’t been loved in a long time. A few years into living here, I learned the house had been home to large, boisterous families for years, but the past decade had been a man who intended to have a large family here, only to have his impending marriage fall through just after the sale. He barely lived here, did nothing here, and was always sad.
My house loves parties, loves activity. It has been on my ass about its sorry excuse for a basement, and since I retooled it this year, it purrs at me every time I pass through. I can’t know how much of that is real and how much is my imagination, but perception is 90% or reality. In Heidi Cullinan land, houses feel.
How does a man who is also a house work? Well, it doesn’t, actually, because it’s physically impossible. In my head, it’s that the energy of a building is strong enough to form into a solid presence and walk around. It can do almost anything inside its own space, be anything, support anything, but it cannot leave. How does a kitsune give birth to it? I have no idea. But you know, I never understood Venus being birthed from sea foam or Athena coming out of Zeus’s head. I felt like fox-births-house had a lot of cover in precedent.
I’m pretty sure house-shifters are never going to catch on as a genre, and you know, I’m okay with that. I like to think Morgan is special, and that will help keep him that way.
Construction worker Hal Porter knows he’s nobody special. But when strange events draw him into a magical world, he becomes the only man who can free Morgan, a lonely, long-enchanted shape-shifter. Whether he feels he’s worthy or not, Hal is the hero Morgan has been waiting for. However, Hal’s task becomes personal as he and Morgan fall in love. Now, to save Morgan and give himself the happily ever after he’s always longed for, Hal will need to do something far more daunting than face Morgan’s captor or finally come out of the closet… He’ll have to believe in himself.
This title has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.
About the Author: Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.