Sunday, October 11, 2009

Guest Blogger: Jessa Slade

Jessa's winner is: Rosalie Drawbaugh! Congrats, Rosalie. Send me your contact info and I'll pass it along to Jessa. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Thanks, Lynda, for letting me guest muse with you today. Since my debut urban fantasy romance, SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, came out last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about fate.

Fate—aka destiny, aka doom—plays a vital role in my storyworld where vulnerable souls are possessed by repentant demons and struggle together to earn their way back into grace. In my telling, those vulnerable souls are marked by a “penance trigger.” The newly possessed heroine of SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, Sera, get the explanation from the hero, Ferris Archer:

“When I had the vision of the demon, it said I’d called it.” She fixed her gaze on her hands wrapped around the coffee cup. “It said I was lonely. It said it loved me. How desperate is that?”

Love. The word exploded in an empty place in him, as if that powder had burned to the end of the line. He clamped down until the echo died. “Desperate on the demon’s part? Or yours?” When she glared at him, he shrugged. “It makes a bargain to fill what’s missing in us and then takes what it needs.”

“But why me?” She wilted a bit. “Seems a little conceited to think I’ve had any more tribulations than the next guy.”

“Haven’t you?” He waited while she considered. “But it’s not about the quantity of your suffering. It’s the quality. Demons are quite the connoisseurs of pain.”

She grimaced. “Me too lately, I guess.”

“Exactly. When the demon crosses over, it seeks a matching target, a soul that resonates with its energy. Somewhere in your past is a penance trigger. It defines the headwaters of an invisible fault line in your soul, cutting a path right to the moment when the demon breaks your life in two.”

“A penance trigger?” Some memory brought a hazy glitter to the corner of her eye. “So it was because of me.”

The tear never fell, but his muscles tightened as if reacting to a mortal threat. He held himself still with effort. He wouldn’t reach for her again. “Whatever it was doesn’t necessarily make you guilty, Sera. It just made you vulnerable.”

Despite his soft tone, her instant focus pinned him. Her narrowed eyes left no room for tears. “I still can’t believe any of this. I should have my head examined.”

“You mean your soul.”

For these Marked Souls, their penance trigger made them uniquely vulnerable—fated them—to demonic possession.

Which makes Bulfinch’s Mythology and Andrew Lang’s Coloured Fairy Books my penance trigger. I loved those stories: The good and evil, the princesses, the youngest sons, the talking animals, the nasty magicians. My first grade school poems were about unicorns and the Gates of Tomorrow. But in the intervening years, I wrote everything except paranormal. I wrote Regencies, a medieval, a rom-com and a chick lit, even a romantic suspense futuristic. In the end, though, the one that sold? A paranormal going all the way back to my good and evil roots. I was obviously fated.

But then, shouldn’t fate be easier? It took me almost a hundred rejections over more than a decade on nearly a million final draft words to finally get “The Call.” If it was fate, shouldn’t it feel inevitable instead of like really hard work?

Ah, maybe I’m forgetting how fate plays out in the Greek tragedies, where everyone struggles mightily over many years and many battlefields against their fate. They run, they hide, they fight and murder, they bribe various gods, and—eventually—they succumb anyway.

And honestly, I guess that does make the better story.

What do you think, is fate a real force, like gravity? Or is it more like the “gravity” that brings me and the bag of dark chocolates together against our will? Have you ever found yourself at a moment, looked back and realized you were fated to be here?

Jessa will be giving away a copy of her book and some cool tatoos to one lucky commenter. The winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you've won.


Blogger Pamk said...

wow love this book. It's right up my alley. I am adding this to my tbb list.

9:07 PM  
Blogger donnas said...

Thanks for sharing. Congrats on the release, it sounds like a great book. Cant wait to get the chance to read it.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

10:52 PM  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I don't know if I believe in fate but I do believe that we can change the way our lives go by the things we do from day to day.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new release and thanks for sharing!

I love the cover and this book is one I would love to read!

Thanks for the cool giveaway!


1:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Jessa :)
Thank you for the post here today.
I loved your excerpt.
I'm glad you persevered & were published!
I don't think Fate is a guiding force in my life. I can look back & realize that where I am now is the result of choices I made. I believe perseverance & determination (like yours) & dedication to one's dreams/goals can move one towards them.
All the best,

1:53 AM  
Blogger SusiSunshine said...

Congrats on the release. This book sounds really fascinating. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Beleth said...

Congratulations on the release! The book sounds very good, im definitely going to add it to my tbr list :D!

2:24 AM  
Blogger Scott Romanski said...

This sounds like a really good story. Thanks for sharing Jessa

4:40 AM  
Blogger Wicked Walker said...

This book sounds so awesome! It is definitely on my TBR list!

8:42 AM  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

Your book sounds great. I love the cover.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Rosalie Drawbaugh said...

I love your question: "If it was fate, shouldn't it feel inevitable instead of like really hard work?" I ask myself that a lot. But despite that, I do believe in fate. Your story is inspiring. Thanks for sharing. :-)

10:04 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Added it to my Goodreads TBR list!

10:32 AM  
Blogger Lil said...

I believe that there are some things that are out of our control. However, we can influence much by the choices we make and the intentions we have.

12:00 PM  
Blogger tetewa said...

Sounds like my kind of read and like the cover!

12:58 PM  
Blogger Jessa Slade said...

Pam, Donna & Terri, thanks!

Mary, I agree on the day to day part of life; that's the only way to live, I think, literally of course :) and figuratively too.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Jessa Slade said...

RKCharron, thanks for stopping by! As Calvin once said to Hobbes as they were plummeting down a cliff on their wagon:

Calvin: Do you believe in fate?
Hobbes: You mean that our lives are predestined?
Calvin: Yeah, that the things that we do are inevitable.
Hobbes: What a scary thought

Ha, yes. I do that to myself too :)

3:14 PM  
Blogger Jessa Slade said...

Beleth & Scott, thanks! Susi, I couldn't wait to get my hands on him -- it! I mean it! -- either :)

Crystal & Tetewa, I wish I could take some credit for the cover. My original suggestions to the designer included a stocking cap and scarf since it's November in Chicago, but I think the artist went a much better direction ;)

3:16 PM  
Blogger Jessa Slade said...

Ah, Rosalie, you're a believer in fate. Our first today :) Lil, I wonder how much of those uncontrollable parts you mention we ascribe to fate. Maybe fate feels less random and thus less scary than chance.

Hmm, I just decided that I think Pixar and Peter Jackson could do justice to an animated Calvin & Hobbes. I wonder if we could talk Bill Watterson into it...

3:35 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I believe in fate and destiny and karma.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe in fate too much (except in fiction) because things keep changing depending on the choices we make. Plus, I have noticed a tendency of people to use the excuse of fate as a way to escape taking responsability for their actions. I believe in "owning" are actions and the consequences that come from them.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Karen W. said...

Jessica's book sounds great!

I believe while some things are "meant to be," we have control over our own fates by the choices we make (or don't make).

Thanks for the contest! :)

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Char said...

Sounds great! Can't wait!

6:26 PM  
Blogger Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

**waves to Ms Lynda** Hey Ms Lynda!
Hey Ms Jessa! It is nice to meet you! And I love the book concept!
I do believe in fate... but at the same time, I do believe our own decisions mark our path the same though, but all through fate. For there is a higher being up there that knows exactly where we are to wind up.
I hope you guys had a great Monday!

8:45 PM  
Blogger Asylumgirl said...

I definitely believe in fate. There were times in my life that I didn't want to be somewhere or certain consequences happened as a result of that. However, I realize that all of those things were destined to happen, whether I wanted them to or not.


9:17 PM  
Blogger Jessa Slade said...

The pro-fate contingency is weighing in now. Good to hear from you, Stacy & Deidre. Cecile, your comment about the higher power made me think about how the Greeks separated out their gods and the Fates were their own power, one even the other gods hesitated to mess with. That IS power :)

11:01 PM  
Blogger Jessa Slade said...

Like Shar & Karen, I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I am too much a product of my culture (rugged individualism) to calmly await my fate. Even our language objects to passivity. Think about the phrase: "I will..." It references a future action, but it also works as a standalone: "I will" as in "That is my will." Our future, at our will.

Whoo, obviously breathed too much toner at the day job today :)

11:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara E. said...

I enjoyed the post and the excerpt. Seduced By Shadows ounds like a great book.
I don't really believe in fate, but that whole "gravity" thing just might have merit. Sometimes things seem inevitable, like if that bag of chocolate is in my cupboard, it is going to end up on my hips.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Pamala Knight said...

That was an awesome post, thanks Jessa. From the excerpt, I can completely relate to the way fate is described and the role it plays in our lives. The heroine of my latest ms lives a life that certainly driven by fate but she's having to uncover it layer by layer.

I'm anxious to read your book. It sounds interesting and wonderful. Congratulations on the release.

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