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Monday, July 2, 2012

A demon and a werewolf? No way!





Heart’s Home, by H.B. Pattskyn, is a steamy erotic romance set in Victorian London. 

“Outcast werewolf Alun Blayney is jaded, fearful of what could happen if even one human were to discover monsters are real. Police Constable James Heron is an idealistic young man convinced that love can overcome any differences. When they meet over the body of a woman murdered in the streets of 19th century London, they form an uneasy friendship.
As the murder investigation progresses, the attraction between them grows, but before they can see the case or their relationship through, there are obstacles to overcome. A sadistic pack leader is out to get Alun, a daemon has fallen in love with James, and James’s immediate supervisor is determined to pin the recent murders—and last year’s rash of Whitechapel homicides—on Alun.”
available now at Dreamspinners Press  


Hi! This is officially my first time doing a guest blog spot. I hope you enjoy it. I guess I should introduce myself, huh? My name is H.B. Pattskyn—or just Helen to my friends. And yes, that’s my real name. I’m a writer and an artist. Although I write in other genres, I have become completely enamored of m/m romance, probably because I spent the last five years writing Torchwood fanfiction (Torchwood is a British Science Fiction series with an in-cannon m/m relationship). 

My debut novel is called Heart’s Home. I got the idea it from a painting I saw in the art show at Dragon*Con, in 2010. The picture was of woman in Victorian garb standing with a werewolf companion. The idea of a werewolf who was on friendly terms with humans was something I’d already explored in my Torchwood fic (I have crazy “alternate universe” Torchwood series in which a werewolf joins the team), but it wasn’t something I’d considered writing original fiction on. Werewolves aren’t as overdone as vampires (in fact, I’m with fellow erotica writer, Lydia Nyx, we need more wolves!) but the whole supernatural thing has become really, really popular lately, to the point where I almost cringe a little when I wander the sf/fantasy section of the bookstore. I had to ask myself: Did the world need one more werewolf story?

I can’t answer that, I’m not the world, I can only tell you that it became a story I needed very much to write. See, when you’re a writer and you get characters stuck in your head, they can be like little children, pestering at you until you get their story down on paper—or at least in a .doc file! And once I’d conceived of them, James, Alun and Robin (that demon mentioned in the blurb) would not leave me alone. (There’s a sequel in the works, in which the couple becomes a permanent threesome… come on, doesn’t it just sound like the set up to a bad joke? “A demon, a werewolf and a constable wandered into the pub and….” When I thought that, I knew they had to become a three-way, but it was too much story for just one book.) Yes, I have a sense of humor about my writing. Like that Indigo Girls song I love so much says: “You have to laugh at yourself, because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.”
After having a sense of who my characters are, the next step for me is world building, because once I have the people, I have to give them a place to inhabit. If that world isn’t solidly constructed with consistent rules, you lose credibility with your readers in a hurry. 

The world of Victorian England is pretty much set in the history books—all I had to do was a little research (more on that process in September). But that still left me with the somewhat daunting task of creating a believable, thriving supernatural community. In addition to werewolves, there are wereravens and other shifters, vampires, demons, angels, ghosts, mages and witches inhabiting my world. You won’t see many of them in Heart’s Home, but they are there. See, one of the jobs of a writer is to know what’s going on off the page as well as what’s happening on it. Which is probably why I’m so lazy when it comes to world building. Not that the world itself isn’t carefully put together: it is. Rather, I create one solid world and use it over and over and over (okay, I’m also not as young as I used to be. I know I’d muddle things up if I didn’t create a single world and just stick to it!)
My fanfiction readers will no-doubt recognize the basic premise of the lycanthropic history presented in Heart’s Home from my Torchwood fics (but I promise there are no aliens in my original fiction, at least not unless I start writing science fiction—and even then, there won’t be any alien vampires. I recently put down a romance when the vampires turned out to be aliens—I didn’t mind that in Doctor Who but in an otherwise contemporary setting, it proved too much to swallow.) 

And creating a world that my readers can swallow is really important to me, because modern readers are a pretty savvy bunch. You don’t want Lon Chaney look-alikes or American Werewolf in London wannabes. You—and me—want wolves to be smart, sexy, complex—equal parts animal and human. Rather ramble on about my wolfy society, here’s an excerpt from Heart’s Home that I think illustrates it pretty well:

**********************************

THE morning after a second woman’s mutilated body was found in Whitechapel, Alun was yanked from his doss house bed and deposited on the hard wooden floor with a painful thump. He yelped, but didn’t fight back. His assailants could only be described as a pair of common ruffians—except there wasn’t anything common about them. They weren’t even human, they were lycanthropes, not that any human looking at the two huge burly men would ever know it.

As soon as they let go of him, Alun rolled over, belly up, and tilted his chin, bearing his throat in submission. Another lycan, a female called Rhianna, crouched in the shadows, in her wolf form. She was a full-blooded lycan, like Alun, but where he was lean and hard muscled, she was emaciated. Her shaggy black coat was gnarled and matted, her dark eyes were dull and sunken in. Alun’s heart ached as he counted her ribs from across the room. Females should be cherished, protected, not left to starve. His heart ached all the more because this female was Dark Moon-born, a Spirit Dancer like him, someone who could pierce the veil and transverse between this world and the next—though unlike him, Rhianna was fully trained and initiated and should have been held in highest regard by her pack. When Alun met her gaze, Rhianna’s lip curled back in a snarl. She had never made any secret of her distain for him. None of them did.

The fourth and final member of the party stood by the door, calmly watching the scene unfold, a smug, self-satisfied grin on his face. His name was Percival Shilton, and he was the London pack’s leader, a muscular, tawny-skinned man with too-long red hair and humorless silver eyes. He strode over to Alun and knelt next to his head, placing one large calloused hand casually on his throat. Alun tilted his head back further and returned his gaze submissively to the floor.

“There’s a good cwn,” crooned the pack leader, his tone patronizing. Speaking Welsh—cwn was the word for “dog”—when he himself was English, only added insult to injury. Or perhaps injury to insult. Alun wasn’t a dog, he was a full-blooded lycanthrope, and they both knew it. Even so, he kept his tongue still. Speaking out of turn would only make things worse than they already were. “You are my little doggie, aren’t you, lad?” Rather than waiting for a reply, he released his hold on the Welshman’s throat and lifted his hand to Alun’s lips. Though it sickened Alun to the very marrow of his bones, he rubbed his face against the pack leader’s outstretched fingers, nuzzling them, kissing his knuckles and covering himself in the other’s repugnant scent as if he were little more than a lap dog showing obeisance to his master. He kept it up until Percival finally patted his cheek in mock-affection. “Such a good boy,” he soothed, stroking Alun’s face and hair. “Such an obedient little doggie. Aren’t you?”

Alun swallowed back the bile burning in his throat and closed his eyes. “Yes, my Lord.” He had to force the words out. Percival settled his hand on Alun’s throat again, just lightly, and turned to the two big sneering lycans standing near the door. “See, what did I say, boys? He’s a good doggie.” But when he looked back down at Alun, his face grew cold. “Or has ye been a naughty little doggie?” he queried, tightening his grip on Alun’s neck. “Been sniffing up whores’ skirts, cwn?”

Trembling, Alun shook his head. “I swear, m’Lord, I had nothing to do with those women.”

Percival snorted. “I’m sure you didn’t.” It was no secret that Alun fancied men. Percival grabbed hold of his hair, pulling it so tight Alun’s eyes watered—but he didn’t dare move. The pack leader smirked and pulled Alun’s face up right next to his own, so that when he spoke, Alun felt the heat of his breath and smelled his last meal rotting in his teeth. “I’ll make ya a deal, ya wretched cwn, ’cause I know ya don’t want to be seeing my face again any more than I want to be seeing yours. You’ll find the mongrel who’s killing whores before the Yard comes sniffing round the wrong doors an’ finds things we don’t want ’em to find.”

Alun swallowed hard and would have nodded if he could have, but instead, he was forced to speak. “Yes, m’Lord,” he agreed, knowing as well as the rest of them that lycans would only survive as long as humans didn’t believe in monsters any more. If that perception changed, it would be the Spanish Inquisition all over again.

Percival opened his fist, dropping Alun unceremoniously to the floor. “I don’t know why your father disowned you; you’re such a good little lap dog. But just so’s we understand each other,” he stood up and motioned to the two big lycans who had roused Alun from his bed, “I want ya to know what’ll happen the next time ya see me….”


**********************************

I liked the idea of playing off lunar phases for my wolves. In addition to the New Moons, like Alun and Rhianna, there are more typical Full Moon born wolves (Percival happens to be one of those), and Half Moon born lycans that we don’t in Heart’s Home until the very end of the book. Half Moons are the peacemakers and diplomats of lycanthropic society in my world. Erm. Yeah. Those of you familiar with that popular role playing game about vampires and werewolves probably know that about Half Moon wolves, too. But it does make sense, if lycans born under the full moon get the full force of the moon’s strength, and the Dark Moons get the full force of her shadow, that those born in between would have a fairly even temperament which would make them good peacemakers between for the Full and New Moon wolves.

What’s that? Somebody asking about wolves born during an eclipse? I’ve got a novella in the works that answers just that question, because yes, like most writers, I usually have a dozen or so ideas floating around the ol’ noggin at any one time. I’m actually hoping to get that story done this year, because it’s an official spin off for Heart’s Home.

Just to make things fun, I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate Shifter Month here on Guys Like Romance, Too! But I think I’m going to make you work for it. It just so happens that the thylacine is my favorite shifter from that werewolf themed role playing game I’m not quite naming by name. 

So here’s the deal: email me between NOW and AUGUST 1st at my email, helenpattskyn.@gmail.com and answer this question: what is a thylacine?  (Sending it to the wrong email won’t disqualify anybody, but that other addy gets a LOT of mail, that’s why I use the second for contests…and when I need to look semi-professional.) 

Please try to answer the question as accurately as possible—it doesn’t take an essay, but a complete sentence would be nice.
Oh, and the prize? I’ll chose one winner at random to receive their choice of a signed paperback copy of Heart’s Home (you will have to include your snail mail addy but I promise, I won’t show up on your doorstep at 2am asking for coffee) OR an electronic copy—not nearly as much fun but some people might prefer to have it on their ereader of choice in a matter of seconds, rather than waiting for the letter carrier. (In order to receive your ebook, you’ll have to register as a customer with Dreamspinner Press—a totally free and painless process). If you choose the hard copy prize, I’ll throw a little swag into the package and you’ll be on my mailing list. I periodically send out little goodies to my readers, so it’s not such a bad deal to get on that list.
Thanks for letting me ramble, I’ve enjoyed being here.

~Helen
 My regular email is thylacine.yawn@gmail.com
 If you want to keep up on what the latest projects are, or where you can find me in person signing my books and hawking my art, please check out my website

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