Angel Martinez and I have been writing together for many years. We had taken a break from a long running project so I emailed her and said I wanted to write collaboratively with her again but I didn't know what. She said alrighy, let's do something a bit outside of the real world. And I said, Urban Fantasy? And she said, fine but nothing with vamps or weres, the world is overrun with them right now. And I said, witches and wizards and fairies and magic? And she said, I have this bizarre idea. Let's rip a hole in the fabric of reality, drop all sorts of creatures in, and create an agency that has to deal with the resulting chaos. And I said, you're nuts. Lets do it! And she said, wait, we need a plot. And I said, what do you mean? I have a snarky mage in my head already that wants out, we can think of a plot later. And she said, you are a bad influence, stop it.
That's how AURA (the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation) was born.
No, really. I'm paraphrasing a bit but largely that's how the conversation went. We knew we wanted to keep it contemporary and we knew we wanted the world we created to have magic and magical creatures. I think my favorite types of fantasy or ScFi stories have always been the alternate reality sort. What would our world be like if fantasy style magic existed? How would the world react? Our answer was: at first there would be shock and perhaps some fear, but ten minutes later it would just be a normal part of life and someone somewhere would create a government agency to deal with it.
With the story premise, some magic-using main characters, and a roughly sketched out plot, we were ready to go. We started writing and by the end of chapter two, we had decided how the rules of magic in our world would work.
That's probably the most important thing to keep any story that has magic in it interesting. Make rules about how magic works and stick to them, until it's time to break those rules. Breaking the rules you set out for magic is the fun part, but it's also the part that takes the most thought and planning. I don't like to throw in something out of the blue, I like to have a reason and some buildup as to why magic suddenly behaves differently, or responds differently for a particular character. It becomes part of the story and adds richness and depth.
Quinn and Val make a good team in that regard. Quinn operates on the fringe of those rules and Val is smack dab in the middle of them. Quinn shakes up Val's comfortable order and it turns out that's just what he needs. Val on the other hand shows Quinn just how sexy a little stability in a mad world can be.
Quinn’s Gambit: AURA 1
Bellora Quinn and Angel Martinez
Gay Urban Fantasy
Totally Bound release 2/6/15
All other distribution (Amazon, etc.) 3/6/15
Blurb for Quinn’s Gambit:
After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities—all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called RARE—Random Anomalous Reality Events—have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA—the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation—to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.
Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn't the easiest city to make a living. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically-induced luck, he works as a ‘free-lance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small time con—according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn't expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.
Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.
Excerpt from Quinn’s Gambit:
“No, you don’t understand,” Quinn said, starting to lose his temper. “This chick just fell out of the sky and knocked me on my ass. She’s probably losing what’s left of her marbles after the jog down from Central Park. Can’t you just help her?”
The receptionist gave him a coolly patronizing smile. “Sir, calm down. This isn’t an adoption agency or the city dog pound. You can’t just drop people off here. Now, if you will just take the clipboard, have a seat and fill out the form, I'll see what we can do.”
Quinn stood with the clipboard in one hand, glaring back at her incredulously. “This is ridiculous! I have stuff to do, you know?” He looked down at the form. “’What is the nature of the problem you are experiencing’?” he read. “Oh my God, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! Look, can’t you just pick up the phone and ask someone in a uniform to put their donuts down and come to the lobby?”
“Yes, I will do just that. As soon as you—”
“Fill out the form,” Quinn interrupted her with a heavy sigh. “Fuck sake,” he grumbled, snatching up the pen. He refused to sit down. If he had to fill out the damn form, he was going to stand right here and remind her how stupid this was until she relented.
* * * *
“Event is local! Central Park area!” Marius cried out in triumph, his dowsing over the map pinpointing it almost at AURA’s doorstep.
Matt clapped Val on the shoulder. “No ‘porting today. Doesn’t make me sad.”
“All right, boys and girls,” Captain Lyons’ voice cut through the chatter. “We’ll quarter the park. We haven’t got a good reading on this, so weapons of choice handy at all times. Valerian, you and Kensington take the north side. McAndrews, you and Nestor on the south. Nyssa, can you fly today?”
The sphinx rose from her place by the door and shook out her wings. “Yes, ma’am. Winds are good. Pollution’s down.”
“Good. Aerial over the park. Keep in radio contact, folks. Let’s move out!”
Val grabbed his sword from his locker in the weapons room, settling the strap across his chest and feeling more himself with the familiar weight of Anvar on his back. A magical sword didn’t do much against gunfire, but it was more than helpful in subduing the most dangerous monsters. Matt carried the guns, three of them.
They dashed down toward the lobby, headed for the street, with Val in the lead. He nearly caused a pile up of human and non-human officers when he stopped short just inside the lobby.
A dryad stood there, her leaves trembling, eyes huge and glassy. That would have been arresting enough, but at the receptionist’s desk, yelling at the girl on duty, was one of the most lovely human boys Val had ever seen—lithe and lean, with cornflower blue eyes and a mop of honey-gold hair. He found himself mesmerized.
“Well, I think we found it,” Matt said with a snort.
“Yes,” Val said, his mouth gone dry. “Perhaps we have.”
Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels.
The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavor. Bellora's first published novel, co-authored with Angel, is scheduled for release at Totally Bound in March 2015.
For more info on Bellora's work and current projects:
Published since 2006, Angel's cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You'll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don't expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.
For all the info on published work, WIP's, and updates: