Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Rory Ni Coileain for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Author: Rory Ni Coileain
Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books
Cover Artist: Insatiable Fantasy Designs Inc.
Genre: Gay Romance, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 07/19/2016
Rhoann Callte, Rhoann Half-Royal, is an impossible Fae. Shape-shifter, he carries the blood of Fae water elementals and has a once-in-a-generation healing gift. Which is his blessing, or his curse, depending on how you look at it – his gift is needed among the exiled Fae of the Demesne of Purgatory, and he’s coerced from his beloved solitude and sent on a one-way trip to the human world.
Vietnam veteran Mac McAllan has been through hell in the last few months, and not just because his new C-leg isn’t performing up to spec. He and his partner of 34 years, stocky bald muscle bear Lucien de Winter, were working at Purgatory when what the owner said was a gas explosion collapsed the building – and put Lucien into a coma back in August. Now it’s October, and an impossibly handsome stranger says he can heal Lucien. But there’s always a price…
A Fae who wants only to be left alone, SoulShared with a human who’s already found the love of his life… and the Marfach testing their incomplete bond, seeking the key to its watery prison. What could go wrong?
My Favorite Child
One of the first questions I’m usually asked when someone finds out I have a series of romance novels out is “So which couple is your favorite?” And most authors of multiple books are used to replying with something along the lines of “That’s like asking me to choose my favorite kid!” (Actually, I have a much easier time picking my favorite kid, since I only have one.) I usually finesse the question – I’ve gotten very good at changing the subject. And I probably always will, because it really IS a lot like being asked to choose between your kids. 😉 But after writing UNDERTOW, I have to admit it’s going to be a lot harder to pretend I don’t have a favorite.
Mac and Lucien are very, very special to me. For one thing, they’re the first couple I’ve written anywhere near my own age. (Well, Fae tend to measure their ages in centuries rather than years, but they basically stop aging when they come into their birthright of magick, right around age 21 or thereabouts, so that doesn’t really count.) Oh, quite a few of my boys are in their late 20s, or even their early 30s – but ‘Mac’ McAllan is 65 years old and an ex-Marine Vietnam veteran, and his partner Lucien de Winter is 55. (Just for the record, I’m 54.) It was a joy to write characters who lived through what I lived through, listened to the same music, had the same cultural touchpoints — Mac calls Lucien “Fuzzball.” Which puzzles the hell out of their very literal-minded Fae, for a while…
And when UNDERTOW opens, Mac and Lucien have been a couple for 34 years. What a delight their scenes together were to write. Still in love after more than three decades, each knowing what his partner loves best and loving to give it to him, in bed and out. My own writing doesn’t usually make me cry – I have problems ignoring the “little man behind the curtain,” especially when the “little man” is actually me – but there’s a scene in UNDERTOW with a T-shirt that gets me every time I re-read.
Something else about Mac and Lucien that I love is that they’re absolutely not your typical romance novel MCs. Mac lost most of his right leg in Vietnam, saving the life of the father of the human MC from HARD AS STONE (SoulShares #1). I tend to think of BT Urruela as I write him – one of Michael Stokes’ models, although of course Mac is several decades older. But there’s something about BT’s smile that’s all Mac. And Lucien…. I love Lucien. He’s a good foot shorter than Mac, bald, almost as broad across the shoulders as he is tall (or at least he gives that impression in the muscle T’s he wears as the lead bouncer at Purgatory), hairy from neck to ankles (and it’s quite possible he has hobbit feet as well, I never had occasion to specify that detail in any of the books), and in the looks department he’s described in one of the earlier books in the series as “the likely offspring of a bulldog and his favorite fire hydrant.” I love him. LOVE him. And so does Mac.
One of the challenges in writing a lengthy series of books – one that, despite its length, has a story arc that needs to come to an end in a finite number of books – is the way your characters throw curve balls at you. In Mac’s case, I introduced him in the very first book in the SoulShares series, HARD AS STONE. And I knew he was going to have his own book, toward the end. What I hadn’t counted on was Lucien showing up, and being such a wonderful character and so much in love with Mac. So I had some choices to make, if I was going to give Mac his own book. I could either get rid of Lucien, or venture into m/m/m territory. I’m not completely averse to killing off a character, if the death is a logical part of the story arc and needs to happen. But there was nothing in this story arc that needed me to kill off a character I quite frankly adored. And I freely admit to hating the “stupid misunderstanding” trope – even when I try to write it, the way I did in BLOWING SMOKE, my Muse won’t let me. (I think Cuinn an Dearmad is my Muse. He’s uppity even for a Fae.) So Lucien wasn’t going anywhere… which left me to figure out how to bring a Fae into a stable long-term monogamous relationship. Fortunately, Rhoann showed me exactly how to do it.
I hope you’ll come along with me on the voyage of discovery UNDERTOW turned out to be!
Rhoann’s aching fingers trembled, so fiercely did he try to grip the cracked and crumbled stone on which he lay. Moments ago, a whirlwind had hammered him through a different stone floor, a floor laced with silver-blue light. Light that had become blades, and when the traitor stone had vanished, those blades had severed soul from soul.
And world from world.
Rhoann didn’t need to open his eyes to know how different this place was from the place he had left behind. The smell of dirt, and of something burned — and still burning — seeped into his lungs even when he held his breath. It was dark, but somewhere off to one side of him a bright, raw light source glowed through his closed eyelids, turning some of the darkness a throbbing blood red. Which sorted perfectly with the memory of agony still quivering down his every nerve.
And the noise… Rhoann had nothing to compare it to, no way to understand it. Roaring, like animals, but never pausing for breath, always at a distance, coming closer and then drawing away. Sometimes punctuated by shrill, harsh sounds, and volleys of shouted curses.
The curses, at least, he could understand. Aine had promised him that he would understand every human language — not quite the gift of Air, to understand and speak every language carried by the air, but surely enough for him. And enough for him to be sure the roaring was, at least, no human language.
I have to see.
Rhoann opened his eyes.
He lay on what looked like grayish stone, shot through with the faint and delicate crystal structure of living magick. A crack in the stone ran almost directly under his face, smaller cracks spidering off as if a giant had stepped on the stone.
Aine said nothing about giants.
Alarmed, he raised his head, gasping as abused nerves and muscles protested.
He lay on the floor of a ruin, a square sunk into the floor of a larger pit. Parts of walls sketched out a small room around him; to one side, a gouge in the earth rose up, the height of several tall Fae, only to disappear into darkness. Rubble was scattered across the floor; some looked like stone, some looked as if it might have been other things. The light he had sensed was off to his other side, and was nothing he could look at directly; it was as if a small sun stood on a pylon, humming softly to itself and shining its rays off in yet another direction, to glance off raw earth and broken stone and show him the walls of the larger pit, and a rough earthen ramp angling down into it.
And beside him…
Foam rose up from the earth, crystal and air and smoke and mist, and something very like magick. And there was a faint, glowing tracing on the stone, near one clutching hand, echoes of the light, the blades he had left behind. The skin of that hand felt tight, stretched, burned instinctively, he drew that hand in, sheltered it under his body. Edged himself away from the silver-blue tracery, as far as his aching body would allow.
What there was not... was water. No scent of it, no sight of it, not even the touch of mist on his skin. He had been warned that this would be so. And he had been assured that he could survive. That he would survive; a water elemental could live out of water, just as a fire elemental could live without the kiss of flame. And he, himself, was only half Royal, half Water.
He would survive. Even if something had gone wrong with his transition, as Aine had said it did with all of them. The pain of transition would end. He had a purpose, his healing gift was needed. And once he had found the two he had been sent here to help, he could seek out some lake, some pool, some stream, on this side of the Pattern, and try to find again what he had lost. Surely even humans had quiet waters where a Fae could make a home.
He had spent most of his life alone. This was no different.
Yet it was. It was different.
This way of being alone, this was different.
And it always would be.
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About the Author
Rory Ni Coileain majored in creative writing, back when Respectable Colleges didn’t offer such a major, so she had to design it herself, at a university which boasted one professor willing to teach creative writing, he being a British surrealist who went nuts over students writing dancing bananas in the snow but did not take well to the sort of high fantasy she wanted to write. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the age of nineteen, sent off her first short story to an anthology being assembled by an author she idolized, received one of those rejection letters that puts therapists’ kids through college (Ivy League), and found other things to do, such as going to law school, ballet dancing (at more or less the same time), and nightclub singing, for the next thirty years or so, until her stories started whispering to her. Now she’s a lawyer and a legal editor, and the proud mother of an about-to-graduate filmmaker, and is busily wedding her love of myth and legend to her passion for m/m romance.
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