Every once in a while, I think most writers probably get these ideas that are just plain fun. Fun…as in, sitting down to write the book is like jumping on a roller coaster, a quick, wild ride that just never lets up.
Candy Houses was one of those ideas. Candy Houses…think dark, bloody fairy tales, set in modern times. The heroine is like a dark-haired version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer-complete butt kicker. Hero wears long, flowing sort of coat-the duster type and likes sharp shiny objects. He’s been mooning after her for a hundred years. She’s so scarred from her childhood, she copes by keeping people at a distance. In comes a certain individual who takes steps to force these two together. I had so much fun writing this one. I’ve already got ideas spinning for at least three more, and I can’t wait.
I’ve always loved these stories. They was my first stab at writing first person. But it’s not in first person the whole way through. I need the male’s POV, too. So it alternates… the heroine’s POV is first person. Hero’s POV is third. I think I made the flow smooth enough and those who got into the series really enjoyed it.
Now, that I’m reissuing them, I’m hoping more people will have the chance to check the series out.
There’s an excerpt at my site, but here’s a different one… from Greta’s POV.
Candy Houses, the first book in the Grimm’s Circle series, is being reissued under my UF persona, J.C. Daniels this Halloween. Kind of fitting…
Greta has to deal with the bogeyman.
I was pretty sure I hadn’t felt this kind of terror in a long time.
I’m not really afraid of dying. Or at least, normally, I’m not. Remember that “hard to kill” thing I mentioned?
I am hard to kill, but a bocan is strong enough to tear my head from my shoulders, and they are fast. That doesn’t sound like a fun way to go.
They are killing machines. Big, dumb killing machines and I was facing this one totally unprepared. The knife I carried wasn’t long enough to kill the thing unless I was really, really lucky. I’m good, but with these things, being good with a knife isn’t enough.
A sword would be better.
A cannon would be better.
Warily, I backed away, circling around and trying to lead the bocan away from the girl. I didn’t know if she’d be able to see it when she woke up. It depended on how far she’d dipped her toes into the waters of evil and death. I could hope that when she saw it, if she saw it, it might scare her straight, but I’m not really big on hope right now.
Not the way the night was going.
And to think I’d been bored just a few hours ago.
“So how long have you been hanging around this plane?” I asked.
The bocan didn’t speak. Their race didn’t have vocal chords. Other than the sibilant sounds they made when they breathed, they were quiet. They moved quietly, they attacked quietly and they killed quietly. Big, dumb, ugly…and quiet. They ought to be loud—only seemed fair. Something like this breathing death down your neck, there should be some sort of warning.
It cocked its head. The dim light danced over the dull gold scales that covered it from head to toe. Those scales were like armor. It had been a while since I’d faced a bocan…probably two or three hundred years, but I hadn’t forgotten how big they are, how strong they are or how hard they are to kill. At least the last time I’d faced one I’d had a for-real sword.
It came at me, a silent rush of death. At the very last second, I spun out of the way and felt the blast of air as it swiped out at where I’d stood only a heartbeat earlier. The thing’s hands ended in claws that measured close to three inches long.
The skin along the back of my neck prickled as I once more started to circle away from the bocan, weaving around it in nonsensical patterns. It made another rush and this time, instead of moving aside, I went down and sliced upward. Black, bitter blood covered me as I managed to break skin. It shuddered, but I figured out very quickly that while I’d hurt the demon, I hadn’t slowed it down. It slashed out as I scrambled away. Those claws got closer that time.
And then again. This time it caught me. I bit my lip to keep from screaming as the claws managed to get me in the belly, slicing me open. Blood flowed.
A hand came out of nowhere and grabbed me, hauling me aside.
Dazed, I fell against the crumbled rock wall at my back and watched. I was in a state of shock, I think. I didn’t recognize the man at first…well, not consciously. My body probably would have, if I hadn’t been losing huge quantities of blood through the gashes in my belly. I whimpered and shrugged out of the blood-soaked jacket I wore and balled it up, pressing it to my wounded stomach.
The flesh was already knitting back together. I could literally feel it, deep, deep inside. It was a bad injury. If I was still wholly human, I’d be dead already. As it was, I was losing a lot of blood. Even us pseudo-immortals get weak when we lose too much blood.
Sinking to the ground, I watched as the man fought the bocan.
He was a lot more equipped to handle the thing than I was, that was for sure. The bocan tried to gut him with those lethal claws but the man moved away, quick as a wish. I saw one hand disappear inside the long coat he wore—something about that coat, the way it stretched over his shoulders, tickled a memory. I wouldn’t look at his face. Thinking about it now, I know why I wouldn’t look, because I knew in my heart who he was, and I needed to prepare myself a little bit more before I actually looked at him.
Instead, I focused on his hands…and on the very awesome weapon he’d drawn from inside that long, black coat. It was a black cylinder, maybe two, two and a half feet long. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t sound too flashy. It would do some serious damage to a human, probably even a number of manifested demons.
But a nine-foot-tall bocan?
Nope. Right up until he twisted it, I wasn’t impressed. But then he twisted it. I heard the whisper of metal as two edged blades appeared, one out either end of the metal cylinder.
Now, it was five feet long, and bladed on both ends.
He used it like an artist. He moved like a dancer of death. The silver flashed through the air. His body barely seemed to touch the ground before he was moving off again. Eerie, deadly and oh so lovely to look at. In a rather morbid way, of course.
Black blood stained the metal as he sliced through the bocan’s scales.
The bocan hissed.
The man just laughed. That laugh. I knew that laugh.
Just before I passed out, I finally let myself look at him. I found myself staring at his familiar profile. An ache settled in my heart and it followed me as I went under.
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