Guest Post, Excerpt, and Contest by Maureen Willett
WHY VAMPIRES DROOL AND ZOMBIE KILLERS RULE
By Maureen Willett
Why is that we love bad boys with a heart of gold more than the obvious hero? And, when I say "we," I mean women and men alike. I think it goes back to our childhood when we wanted to be cool but were afraid of getting in trouble with our parents. We wanted to be bad, but just couldn't quite pull it off.
Then, there was the bad boy or girl, who was troubled, acted tough on the outside, got into trouble, but secretly still slept with stuffed animals well into adolescence. These kids weren't the bullies, druggies, or mean kids, but they might have hung out with that crowd. But, push come to shove, they'd stick up for the nerds who were getting beaten up for their lunch money on the way to school. They looked rough and cool, but inside they were marshmallows.
Modern literature, film, and television are filled with them, especially lately as more and more paranormal stories become popular. These characters are naughty, sexy, fearless, filled with attitude, arrogant, and fall hard and deep when they're in love. Men want to be them, and women want to tame them.
So here's my current Top Five paranormal bad boys:
5. ERIC NORTHMAN, Sookie Stackhouse novels
Although I love the character in HBO's True Blood series, I'm a bigger fan of the character in Charlaine Harris' funny and sexy series of paranormal novels. Eric's love for Sookie doesn't waiver, he's always there to save her when she's in trouble, and he looks great while doing it. His hair is long and blond, which is fitting for an ancient Viking vampire, and he's tall and broad-shouldered. What's not to like?
Eric can be ruthless, but mostly it's in his pursuit of Sookie. Somehow, she manages to put off falling head over heels for him for a few books. This is a great mystery to me, because I'm pretty sure I'd be hooked within minutes of meeting him.
I do have to say, here and now, that I’m getting bored with vampires. They’re just a bit overdone. I like the danger they present to mere mortals, but there are other types of magical predators. Read on, please.
4. DAMON SALVATORE, The Vampire Diaries, The CW television
I have to admit that I'm over my once-beloved TV show, and if it weren't for Damon, I'd be long gone. I still watch every week, though, to hear his snarky one-liners and see what trouble he creates. He's a bit spiteful and careless with human lives, but he loves deeply. And, Damon is almost blindly loyal to those he loves. He stands up to older, more powerful vampires without flinching, and is always ready for a fight.
And, it doesn't hurt that he's played by Ian Somerhalder, a man with amazing features. He does look like an ethereal being without even trying: raven black hair, flawless white skin, and crystal clear blue eyes.
3. DARYL DIXON, The Walking Dead, AMC television
Is this any surprise? The thing that's so great about Daryl is he's human and not all that young anymore. He doesn't have supernatural powers, but his expertise with a crossbow is quite fantastic.
It takes time, but Daryl really grows on you, especially when you see him cradling a baby in his arms, or defending strangers against zombies. He's fearless, smart, shy, and rocks a poncho and crossbow on a motorcycle as no one else could. His face is a bit wrinkled, and his eyes usually look worn, but that makes him all the more special. He's real. And he's hot!
And his voice is to die for: husky and sweet.
Of course, Daryl wouldn't be so hot, if he weren't played by Norman Reedus, an actor who seems to get better with age. I hope he keeps going in The Walking Dead, because the most interesting characters have a tendency to get killed by zombies. Not sure it would be my favorite show without him.
All of these characters are worthy of our fantasies. They jump into bad situations without blinking an eye, and somehow always save the day. They have morals, although sometimes well hidden, they're courageous, sexy, and a bit dangerous. As an author, my aim is to create a bad boy in every novel who is as compelling and memorable. And for my top two choices, I believe I have created such characters in my novel The Soul Stealer. And, neither is a vampire.
2. ANDREW LE FEY, The Soul Stealer
Andrew is pure guilty pleasure on every level. He’s magical, a rock star, snarky, generous, seductive, bisexual, and beautiful. He’s also not bad with a sword when he has to be. Andrew is an ancient fae masquerading as a rock star in contemporary Los Angeles. He owns an exclusive night club where the famous gather, and he toys with the ones who interest him.
His powers are extraordinary, especially when it comes to seduction. Humans can’t resist him. Although Andrew amuses himself by toying with the very rich and powerful, behind his beautiful, sarcastic exterior, he does have a heart and a purpose for his games.
1. HUNTER BLACKTHORNE, The Soul Stealer
My number one bad boy is confused and tortured by his past. He has a conscience, but doesn’t always listen to it. He’s a gorgeous, half-human, half magical being who has never let his heart be touched. When he does finally fall in love, he wants to do the right thing and be honest with her, but he just can’t do it. Honesty has never been a big part of his life. Instead, he’s learned to be a master manipulator. So, Hunter weaves a web of lies, all in the guise of trying to protect his lady love. And if he makes the wrong move, he could get himself and his love both killed by assassins.
THE SOUL STEALER BY MAUREEN WILLETT
Hunter Blackthorne had seen the face of death on others and now wondered how it might look on him. The journey through the abyss to another reality proved more difficult than before. Loud, torturous screams filled the silence as he churned around and around. It didn’t matter if he closed his eyes or not, because the bleak darkness made it impossible to see. Maybe the screams belonged to him. Hunter wasn’t sure. He was in an often-used wormhole and anyone could be in there.
The journey ended with a gut-wrenching fall as he dropped through layers of atmosphere to reach the portal—the one place where the wormhole was soft enough to get through. Wind whipped around and penetrated his body with sharp force. Then, light increased and the ground pulled at him, getting closer and closer, until he could no longer refuse his destination. The twirling before his eyes stopped just in time to gain control and ease the point of impact.
As he touched down, he gulped in warm, moist air, but he was too dizzy to maintain footing and fell flat on his back. Life-ending pain seeped into his pores like poison, but he was pretty sure he hadn’t died.
He never landed in the same place on the island but, even so, he felt more disoriented than usual. The soothing coconut tree palms swaying in the breeze overhead were not an unexpected sight but much too serene for the way he felt. Even the scent of gardenias couldn’t ease the pounding in his head. Souls cried out in anguish all around him.
The toxins of the abyss mixed with the pollution of this reality were already affecting his ability to focus. He needed to purify in a quiet place; gather his thoughts and feelings in meditation. Whenever he traveled here, Hunter marveled at how much the humans in this reality had snuffed out their ability to live harmoniously, even in the most remote place on the planet, one heralded as “paradise.”
Hawaii was one of the few places that was still forming, spitting fire and rocks from the belly of volcanoes. And with that new life came all sorts of mystical creatures, attracted to the power and magic of the heart of Earth. The strong magnetic field around the active volcanoes pulled the portal out of the clouds and toward the land, but the unsuspecting people inhabiting the islands had no idea that all sorts--good and bad--came through the funnel from inner space.
Hunter had been to Hawaii many times and had seen it disintegrate over the years--an unfortunate thing, for soon the portal between the two realities would be clogged with all the crap they let seep into their air, and no one would be able to get through. It was of the utmost importance he capture her this time, because he might not have access to this world in the future.
That would heartbreaking; he liked it here despite all the flaws. It was so easy to fool everyone into believing he was human. In this tarnished, stale world, unlike that of his own reality, no one believed in magic anymore. It was quite freeing. No one got suspicious of him the way they did at home.
Hunter got to his knees and brushed off the dust from his clothes but then looked around to make sure no one was there to see the glittery sparkles flying all around a man who had just fallen from the sky. It was then he noticed all the broken and faded headstones with barely discernible engravings. Some were written in Chinese or Japanese characters, but most were in English. None had flowers by them. Green moss and ferns overwhelmed each plot. Hunter
smiled as he ran his fingers over the smooth headstone he had hit on the way down. This particular spirit was no longer around. Not even remnants still existed.
A crack of thunder made him look up. The air felt heavy with moisture as black clouds roiled overhead, and the pungent smell of rain hitting hot pavement somehow seemed real even though the squall wouldn’t hit for a few more minutes. As with most island storms, it would pass quickly, but the downpour would be harsh while it lasted.
The small square cemetery was enclosed with a wrought-iron, spiky fence that was discolored and mossy. Outside cars whizzed by. Indeed, no one noticed him standing there, looking as disheveled and worn as the gravestones, surrounded by death in the bustling city of Honolulu.
Another crack of thunder made Hunter grab his leather satchel and vault over the fence. He ran to the nearest awning, stumbling toward the doorway of a nearby electronics store to wait for the storm to pass. It was then he checked the front pocket of his leather bag to make sure he still had it. As his fingers grasped the cool, smooth emerald and ivory handle of the dagger, Hunter wondered if he would find her this time. He almost hoped she’d be able to resist him.
Most of the time, he hated inflicting pain, but this time there would be pleasure, too. The taste of her lips played heavily on his imagination, and he anticipated being captivated by the slanted green eyes and golden hair he had seen so many times in his visions. Yes, he would find selfish pleasure in this particular task. His father had devised the plan well, but even he didn’t understand what it truly meant to Hunter—the power it would give him to capture their enemy’s only heir.
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Publish Green
Hunter Blackthorne has almost all he needs: powerful magic and the seductive art of deception. Now, all he needs is her soul.
In the dark, twisting world of The Soul Stealer, half-human Hunter Blackthorne embarks on a quest to vanquish the heir of his father's enemy by stealing her soul. Though his father would settle for her mere death, Hunter is determined to pilfer Malia Smalls' very essence in hopes of obtaining supreme power. The Soul Stealer is a story of questioned loyalties, power struggles, and decidedly unconventional romance.
Since his target is a mere human, Hunter's mission seems laughably straightforward. However, upon meeting Malia, Hunter realizes that this task is anything but uncomplicated. Hunter starts to waver between commitment to his father's cause and an unshakable feeling of foreboding guilt over his mission. Hunter thought he knew everything there was to know about his identity and his family, but signs of a darker truth lurk below, threatening to overturn everything.
A story of alternate realities and twisting complications set in exotic Hawaii, The Soul Stealer is a story of fantasy, magic and mysticism, but also a story about humanity and the moral and emotional conflicts that we all face. The Soul Stealer transports the reader to an exciting, dangerous, and captivating world that won't be easily forgotten.
About the Author:
Since she was in grade school, Maureen Willett has been a writer of fiction that pushes the boundaries of what is and isn’t. At that time, she twisted class writing assignments into stories about witches, tricksters in the night, and sparkling faery dust. And, participating in the art of levitation every time her family gathered at holidays made Maureen feel more than qualified to write fantastic tales. Magic had always been a secret part of her family’s legacy--toyed with but never spoken about.
But life got in the way. A successful career in automotive journalism and public relations in Los Angeles took her places in the corporate world she had dreamed of while majoring in communications in college. Climbing the corporate ladder to vice president of a prestigious public relations agency was engrossing, but did she really want to spend her days writing about cars and monster trucks, and trying to break through the thick glass ceiling of the automotive world?
Then one day, she was offered a transfer to the Honolulu, Hawaii, office of her agency. She jumped at the chance to change her predictable and stressful existence for one of soaking up the sun on a white, sandy beach. Or so she thought.
Hawaii didn’t prove to be as stress free as Maureen had hoped, but it did offer a fresh perspective. After two uncertain years of trying to blend into the foreign island culture, Maureen fell in love with Oahu and vowed never to leave. The tropical paradise held a soft yet powerful mysticism that inspired her to set pen to paper once again.
Even the office buildings in downtown Honolulu were haunted. Maureen often saw ethereal beings in the halls of the radio station where she was the manager of local and national sales. These pesky pieces of grey mist didn’t bother her, though. Maureen thought of them more as interesting topics for urban fantasy tales than scary apparitions.
Magical creatures pop off the pages of her novels, but at the core of each story are great characters in very human conflicts that anyone will find compelling. Very often, Maureen writes about angels, faeries, and even leprechauns, but they are always woven through an authentic story.
As an avid reader herself, Maureen wants a page-turner that keeps her up until the wee hours of morning. She strives to create that same experience for her own readers. Each novel is carefully crafted as an exciting, mind-bending experience that will take readers beyond their day-to-day lives.
But don’t expect to think too hard, or contemplate the meaning of life. Pure fun and page-turning entertainment is what you’ll find in a novel by Maureen Willett. It’s almost a magical experience.