The Adventures of The Everyday Fangirl again welcomes author Alexandra Christian as a guest blogger to talk about how unhealthy obsessions can be turned into viable fiction.
Take it away Alexandra!
Turning Unhealthy Obsessions into Viable Fiction, or Why “Sapiosexual Love Monkey” Really Just Means Benedict Cumberbatch Fanfiction By Alexandra Christian
Sapiosexual: (adj.): being sexually aroused by intelligence.
In my bio, you’ll notice that part of my mission statement with Little Red Hen Romance is bringing sapiosexual love monkeys to intelligent readers everywhere. It’s a concept I came across several years ago as I began nursing an unhealthy fangirl obsession with the BBC’s series Sherlock and its star, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Lemme start at the beginning. Around that same time, I became miserable at my day job and really depressed about writing in general. I was adrift in a sea of uncertainty and was desperately trying to find my way to shore. The kinds of books I wanted to read didn’t seem to exist and I felt like there was little to no market for the kinds of books I wanted to write. I loved romance novels, but couldn’t stand the heroes. Christian Grey was a whiny Mama’s boy with too much time and money on his hands. Edward Cullen had a God complex. The standard Harlequin hero was just an oiled torso stereotype. I wanted more. I refused to believe that I was a freak for wanting action and intrigue with her romantic stories. I wanted a hero who was not only able to rush into battle, but could also engage in a battle of wits. A hero who could think his way out of any situation. A cool, calculating hero who was interested in more than just what lurked between the heroine’s thighs. When I aired my grievances to my sister she said, “Have I got a show for you.”
By the middle of the first episode, I was offering my body as tribute. The deduction monologues made my heart (and other less-mentionable parts) flutter. The way Sherlock just seemed to know things. The way he studied EVERYTHING. It made me (and I suspect many others) wonder what a man like that would be like as a lover. By the end of series one, I was more inspired than I had been in more than a year. By the end of that week, I had written a short, erotic horror story titled “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” about an obsessed fangirl. And by the end of the month, the hero of my new Phoenix Rising series, Macijah “Cage” St. John, was born.
In the first chapter of Naked (Phoenix Rising 1), if you’ve watched Sherlock at all, you can see the influence. He’s extremely sharp and does not suffer fools. His English wit cuts like a knife. And the physical description of Cage, while more Khan (from Star Trek Into Darkness) than Sherlock, is very definitely Cumberbatch-ish. See..
The man who had come to her rescue was standing in the impromptu doorway that had been made by his and the wolf-man’s bodies hitting the wall. Her mouth hung limply from her jaw as she realized that he hadn’t a stitch of clothing on his body. Pale skin stretched over a lean musculature, lined with scars that kept drawing her eyes downward. Phoebe felt her face go up in flames and she commanded herself to look up into his face. His dark, curly hair was wild, but his blue eyes burned brightly.
Cage embodies the Alpha hero I always wanted. He’s not just a meathead with lots of disposable income. Or a shifter that can’t control his primal urges. Cage uses his brain, not just his fists or his weapons. He’s complex with a past that’s reflected in eyes that are lined with age and experience, not guy-liner. And because of that, I suppose that most of my stories and books that have been written in the last couple of years have a healthy dose of my Cumberbatch obsession.
So there. I’ve confessed. Whew… it feels good. Freeing. But I can’t promise that I will go forth and sin no more. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s some sin going on in my WIP even as we speak.
Thanks again Alexandra for being a guest blogger today and for sharing this insight with us!
You can find out more Alexandra by visting the following:
Alexandra Christian is an author of mostly romance with a speculative slant. Her love of Stephen King and sweet tea has flavored her fiction with a Southern Gothic sensibility that reeks of Spanish moss and deep fried eccentricity. As one-half of the writing team at Little Red Hen Romance, she’s committed to bringing exciting stories and sapiosexual love monkeys to intelligent readers everywhere. Lexx also likes to keep her fingers in lots of different pies having written everything from sci-fi and horror to Sherlock Holmes adventures. Her alter-ego, A.C. Thompson, is also the editor of the highly successful Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series of anthologies.
A self-proclaimed “Southern Belle from Hell,” Lexx is a native South Carolinian who lives with an epileptic wiener dog and her husband, author Tally Johnson. Her long-term aspirations are to one day be a best-selling authoress and part-time pinup girl. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Broad Universe—an organization that supports female authors of speculative fiction.
Note: Alexandra was kind enough to share an excerpt of Naked and you can find this here!
The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl is happy to present this excerpt from the recently published novella Besotted by Elle Clouse.
Tamsyn paused a moment at the gate, looking up at the brick mansion with trepidation. Five years since graduation from the academy and the prince had arranged a reunion. She looked forward to seeing old friends, but the struggle to graduate niggled the back of her mind as if it were yesterday.
She sighed, brushed the imagined wrinkles from her taffeta gown and pushed open the wrought iron gate. The windows leaked light, and the music from the ballroom almost drowned out the horse drawn carriages that traversed the streets behind her.
She was late.
“Miss Bradford, a pleasure to see you again.”
“Gilly!” Tamsyn had been so focused on the front door she didn’t see the footman. “How have you been? Is Edgemont still treating you well?”
“Yes, Miss. Always. A fairer master I couldn’t find.” Gilly smiled, his eyes lined with wrinkles. The old man had been employed at the prince’s estate as long as she could remember, and he’d always been kind to her.
“Good. Is the gang all here?” She was lingering. So much had changed since they’d studied together, yet so much remained the same.
“Yes, and they are waiting for you.” Gilly pulled open the front door. Incense and laughter wafted out, reminding her of their last soiree. They’d all had such high hopes five years ago. Had any of them attained their dreams? Did they still think she needed protecting?
Pushing her insecurities aside, she crossed the threshold into a realm she rarely entered. Although permitted to attend the academy, Tamsyn had never fit in amongst the sons of the titled wealthy. She hadn’t been the only woman or the only commoner, but that never kept some from reminding her of her low birth. An anonymous grant had paid for her tuition, and she’d never looked back.
The foyer was empty save for another footmen standing ready to take her wrap. She handed over the cashmere knit to bare her shoulders and chest, a peacock green corset hugging her bosom and narrow waist. Her sparrow brooch accenting her endowments. Her late mother would be proud of her attempts to fit in among her peers. Although Tamsyn had never cared what people thought of her, her mother knew the value of public opinion.
Tamsyn tucked a wayward curl behind her ear and considered her path; left, straight, or right. The most ruckus sounds rolled in from the left, so she turned right into a parlor. Edgemont had redecorated since she’d been there last. No longer beige and olive green, now crimson and gold accented curtains dominated the windows. The furniture and cushions bore some shade of red or gold, and couples sat or stood around the room sipping champagne.
Eyes turned toward her, and she fought the swell of her throat. She was a woman without an escort, how risqué. She lifted her nose and scanned the room. No familiar faces. She strolled to the next adjacent room, the stares of former classmates and their companions following. Did they recognize her? Did the red hair hide her identity? She’d spent so many years dulling the hue with teas and dyes that her true color shocked some.
She jumped at the sound of her name. A familiar, lanky gentlemen pushed past the billiards table. His pale blond hair was worn longer than she remembered and pulled into a low ponytail. He wore a wrinkled shirt, and his necktie hung around his neck. Before she could dodge him, he snaked his arms around her and embraced her.
“Tamsyn, aren’t you a bit of jam!” He set her down and pulled a curl taut then released it. It bounced back into place. “I thought for sure you’d show in your military uniform.”
“Lir Coleman, that’s no way to greet a lady.” Tamsyn swatted at his hand when he tried to tug another curl.
“Ha, you may be an extraordinary woman, but you’re no lady.” He bumped her with an elbow and laughed. “You and I both know you can best most of these men with one arm behind your back.”
“Don’t say that too loudly, or I’ll have to prove it.” She laughed and brushed her skirt. “And I’d prefer my uniform to this…finery.”
Lir smirked, his gaze sweeping from hem to curl. “You put every other lady here to shame. You just need to stop fidgeting, or you’ll give yourself away.” He grabbed her hand and led her forward, past the classmates he, moments ago, shoved aside to greet her.
He pulled her into another room further back in the house, a private study with two more happy faces.
“You lot owe me a guinea. I told you she’d come.” Lir flourished his hand toward her as if presenting a prized horse. “May I present Tamsyn Bradford, Head Mistress of Her Majesty’s School for Exceptional Ladies.”
Tamsyn blushed. “That hasn’t been announced, yet.”
The gentlemen before her clapped and smiled.
“No, but I have an inside source.” Lir waved over a taller man, his hair golden blond and wild as the wind. She’d recognize the prince’s swagger anywhere, in school uniform or wearing the latest fashion.
“Edgemont.” Tamsyn nodded. “Am I to believe you had a hand in getting me the position?”
“Lord, no, Tamsyn. I know better than to interfere. You earned it fair and square.” He pressed a glass into her hand and raised his own. “To Tiny Tamsyn who’s made it the farthest than any of us! Hip hip!”
“Hurray!” The three men all shouted in unison.
The second man, with dark slicked back hair and a patch of stubble on his chin, stepped forward and clapped her on the back. “Congratulations. If anyone can launch a battalion of lady fighters, it’s you.”
“Thanks, Zeke.” She smiled up him. “It’s nice to see you all. You must tell me what you’ve been up to since Lir already blabbed my exciting news.”
“I’m working for my father, but that’s no surprise. He sent me to the academy to aid in his research.” Zeke sipped his champagne. “It’s all quite boring, I promise.”
“You can guess what His Highness here has been up to.” Lir drained his glass and set it aside. “Nothing but tot-hunting when he’s not running his mum’s errands.”
“What more is a prince to do?” Edge joked.
“Leave a mark on society, that’s what.”
They all turned toward the new voice, one Tamsyn had hoped to hear. Tall and blond like Edge, this man was built like an ox and barely fit into his suit. His eyes were a piercing blue like Edge’s but held compassion.
“Ah, Tamsyn Bradford, let me introduce my twin brother Slademont Foust.” Edge led her forward with a hand on the small of her back. Tamsyn had met Slade once or twice before, in school, and she’d been smitten each time.
Slademont met her gaze then bowed. She curtseyed, and heat rushed through her as he took her hand and pressed his lips to the back of it. His skin was coarse but warm, and he ran his thumb over her knuckles before releasing her.
Tamsyn glanced at Edge and it seemed he hadn’t noticed their moment. He hugged his brother around the shoulders, and side by side, Slade dwarfed his brother. “He’s a machinist, don’t you know? Works on all those giant engines that make trains and airships move.”
“That’s right.” He smiled at his brother, a dazzling sight that made her heart skip a beat. “Keeping all those fancy designs, you create, working for the normal folk.”
Edge laughed. “Rightly so. Designing them is more fun than building them. Too dirty.”
“There’s nothing wrong with a little hard work.” Tamsyn’s gaze kept seeking Slade, and her heart thrilled when their eyes met. Never in all her years had a man made her react that way. Time to change the subject. “What about Axel, will he be joining us?”
Edge guffawed. “That old pirate had better things to do than visit his prince. Something about a new opera? A soprano? I don’t care.”
She turned to Zeke. “How is your sister?”
“Good. She should be done with school soon, and I do believe my father has a debut ball scheduled, already.” Zeke topped off all their glasses with champagne before he sat down on a plush armchair. “Although, when I told her what you’ve done, she said she wanted a transfer. I doubt she could take a knock like you, Tiny.”
“Wait, this is Tiny Tamsyn?” Slade strode to her side. “The woman who wrestled Edge to the ground first day of classes? I’d have paid anything to see that fight.”
“I let her win.” Edge snickered and sat at his desk, glass in hand.
“He had that black eye for a month.” Slade picked up her hand and inspected her knuckles. “I thought I was the only one able to wallop him.”
“He brought it on himself, you know.” She smiled up at Slade. “He said no man could best him in a fight. And none did.”
Slade bellowed with laughter, throwing his head back. “He never mentioned that!” He wiped a tear from the corner of his eyes as his laughter subsided.
“Tamsyn was ours from that moment on,” Zeke said. “And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Feared by every male student, revered by every lady. Top of her class in every subject from history to telegnosis. I might have failed arithmetic if it weren’t for her.”
“Just being a good friend.” Tamsyn smiled. She’d forgotten the late night study sessions with Zeke. Toward the end of their final year, he reviewed all his work with her.
Slade glanced at his brother. “Speaking of being a good friend, Edge. You invited all these people to your house, and you’re hiding in your study. You should get out and mingle.”
“Yes, we should all get out and go have some fun.” Edge jumped up from his desk and pressed Slade and her together as he passed. “There is plenty of champagne, and I shall call dinner. Then we can dance. Come along.”
Slade offered her his arm. “If we play along for a bit, he’ll get distracted. Then we can be left to ourselves.”
Alone with Slade. If her heart rate was any indication, she was in trouble. No one had ever piqued her interest like he did. It had been easy to ignore when they’d both been busy with coursework and easier still when they’d lived separate lives. But now that she had his undivided attention, she was doomed.
You can learn more about Elle by visiting her Webpage: http://elleclouse.com.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am sharing some of my favorite love stories.
Lisa’s and Rick’s love story in Robotech
This love story between Lisa and Rick shows how love can bloom and mature over time. You can watch these two fall in love, but you can see them get married and, in the comics and novels, see how they handle married life along with their adult responsibilities as commanders in times of war and peace.
Cordiella’s and Aral’s love story in the Vorkosigan Saga
This is another love story born during a time of war and matures over time, especially seeing their love continue through the eyes of those around them.
River Song’s and The Doctor’s love story in Doctor Who
This is a love story that is indeed out of time and space. This love story is so complicated and so confusing at times that it hard to know at which point you are within the story. However, though it all you can see how much love there is between these two characters once everything is put together.
It is again my honor to welcome back author, friend (full disclosure) AND fellow Fangirl, Pippa Jay as a guest blogger to discuss 5 facts about her new story, Hallow’s Eve! Take it away, Pippa!
Five Facts about Hallows Eve
1) The summoning spell I wrote myself, then used Google translate to turn it into Latin. Unfortunately this caused a bit of conflict with my editor. She attempted to translate it back into English, and questioned my word choice. After much experimentation with a couple of other translators, we discovered even feeding it back through the same translator we used in the first place made it come out completely different to the original wording. So, I decided to leave the Latin as it was. If anyone is curious and tries translating it into English to find out what it says, you’re out of luck. It’ll sound like total gobbledegook. Which maybe isn’t such a bad thing for a spell.
2) The elements used in the spell are based on the chemical composition of the average human body. As a former analytical chemist, this was a fun part of this story. The idea originally came from a poem in Terry Pratchett’s Wintersmith, where the spirit of winter attempts to make itself a human body. I was never able to find out if this was an older poem or if Pratchett made it up all by himself. Regardless, research led me to the chemistry of a human body, and my chemical knowledge helped me convert it into everyday household goods that could be used to replace them.
3) Both Hal and Eve’s appearance came after I found a couple of images I wanted for the cover. Usually it works the other way round. In fact, the image I found for Hal completely changed the story. But I mention that in point five.
4) Housekeeper Hodge is based on my love for Brian Froud’s fairies, and Thimbletack the brownie from the Spiderwyck Chronicles. During edits, my editor kept referring to Dobby from Harry Potter. In fact, Dobby is based on the folklore regarding brownies, which are household sprites who only come out at night, and are not chocolate confections as Eve insists in the story.
5) When I first thought up the main character’s name, it was going to be a little or teenage girl, and not a thirty-something guy. However, when I first found the image of Hal used for the cover, it completely transformed the whole idea of the story, leaving me with nothing but the original title idea.
Can one night of magic heal his heart?
12 months ago, Hal’s world crashed and burned, taking the love of his life with it. He’s waited all year for that one special night when the souls of the departed come home, hoping his candle will summon back one in particular to heal his broken heart. But the forbidden knowledge he’s learned could call something far worse, and put more than his own soul at risk…
Excerpt from the story:
The thud and chink of beer bottles and glasses on the bar announced Dan’s return.
Hal shook his head. “Not tonight.”
“Oh, c’mon, man. Just one beer.”
Hal dropped his gaze to the glass he was still drying with a vehemence it didn’t deserve, avoiding his friend’s pleading stare. “Thanks, but I’m not in the mood.”
Dan made an exasperated sound. “Look, I know it’s nearly a year—”
Pain lanced into his chest. “Stop.” He looked up.
A frown creasing his tanned face, Dan glared back, but he shut up.
Hal sucked in a breath. He didn’t want to fight with Dan over this. The guy had stopped Hal’s life completely falling apart after last Halloween. “I know what you’re trying to do,” he murmured, and relief flickered in Dan’s brown eyes. “But I’m not ready to let it go.”
“I’m not saying you should, man. But how about getting back into some social interaction? You can’t spend the rest of your life as a recluse.”
“I won’t.” Hal smiled. Dan had no idea.
“Then come out for a beer.”
“Tomorrow then. I know you’ve got the Halloween shift off.”
Hal put down the glass he’d abused. “I’m busy.”
“Oh, yeah? Doing what? Trick or treating?” Dan scoffed. “What is it with you and Halloween? You never struck me as religious enough to find it offensive, but you don’t go out and have any fun either. So how come you always take the night off?”
Hal looked around the bar at all the tawdry holiday decorations, and debated how to answer. Maybe Dan thought he was a closet Christian or something. The truth would shock the hell out of him. Especially with what Hal had planned this year. “My…family don’t see it as something to joke about.”
“Oh. Strict Catholic or something?”
“Something like that.” Hal smiled at the thought of his parents taking Holy Communion. But let Dan interpret it any way he liked.
Published 8th October, ‘Hallow’s Eve‘ is available in all digital formats from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, All Romance eBooks, and most digital online retailers.
Check out the giveaway that includes a chance to win 1 Pentagram necklace and 6 jasmine scented glitter tealights, open internationally, 1st-31st October, no cash or other alternative!
You can enter for your chance to win by following this contest link!
You can add Hallows Eve to your Goodreads shelf HERE. You can also sign up to her no-spam newsletter HERE to get spam free, early sneak peeks at covers, and news of the latest releases, giveaways and contest.
Pippa Jay’s bio:
After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, like I am, she blogs at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include a YA science fiction novel—Gethyon—published through BURST (Champagne Books), two self-published short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply and The Bones of the Sea), and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).