Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Evil Within by Shea Berkley

*Leave a comment for Shea Berkley below to be entered to win an ebook of The Marked Son*

The Marked Son

Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he’s never met, he had no idea what.

When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents’ farm, he knows he’s seen her before…in his dreams. He’s felt her fear-- Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.

Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he’s completely insane or he’s about to have the adventure of his life, because where they’re going is full of creatures he’s only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death…

The Evil Within

My friends and I were kicking back and jaw-flapping about books and story structure and character arcs (we’re serious geeks like that), and we landed on the topic of genre. More to the point, the paranormal genre. Why has it found such a strong following?

I won’t go into all the deconstruction that followed (seriously, it’d make Dracula want to stake himself to get away from our theoretical beat-down), but we determined that one of the mainstays of paranormal genre is the presence of evil.

I’m not talking about a dissatisfied friend who backstabs her way into the job you were a shoe-in before she started her climb because she wants a new pair of Christian Louboutin Sequined Platform Pumps that are, “Oh my God!” to die for. I’m talking about real evil—that stuff which we cannot explain, that makes our heart seize up; stuff that will make a grown man curl into a fetal position and cry out for his mommy.

That innate sense of evil is one of the reasons I write fantasy. I love a good villain, but what I really love is a “good” character who finds out that evil is in him. Everyone is capable of evil. In my book, The Marked Son, Dylan’s grandfather is questioned by a neighbor about the out-of-control behavior of a local teenage boy. This is what Grandpa says:

The muscles along Grandpa’s shoulders tighten and quickly relax. “Hell, Ed. No one, given the right circumstances, is harmless. Including you.”

We don’t like to think of ourselves as being evil, but evil exists in each of us. It’s the line we’ve been known to toe up to, but hopefully never cross. It’s the monster inside us that the paranormal author digs out and lets loose. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dilemma. What happens when we allow the monster to roam free? When the vampire is embraced? The werewolf let free? The god allowed to meddle? The magic used to harm instead of help?

That last, what happens when we use magic to harm instead of help, is a major conflict in Dylan’s life. The Marked Son is Dylan’s testing ground. He doesn’t fully accept what he’s become, and only just begins to understand who and what he is, but his journey isn’t over. It’ll take two more books to see what happens to him and those he loves. It should be a fun ride, and I’m excited to continue the story. Here’s a small excerpt from The Marked Son:

Easing back, I press my spine into the prickly bark and rub my hands through my hair. It’s obvious they don’t know I’m in their world. According to Navar, I’m not even real. Granel is a problem. He believes in my existence and has enough sway over Navar that he’s gotten him to at least consider the possibility I’m real and a threat.

After seeing what I’ve just seen, I’ve got to get back home now more than ever.

Before I can move, the guard appears, dangling upside-down from the branch above me with a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. “Hello, mutt.”

He cartwheels out of the tree, lands on his feet, and swings his sword in one fluid motion. I dodge the blade and spring to my feet, calling on the tree branches to capture him. The man is quickly tangled, yet with a heavy blow, his sword slices neatly through the wood. He drops to the ground unfazed.

With eyes glittering, he stalks me.

I fumble for the sword Bodog gave me as real fear begins to grow. This guy is a hardened soldier. I don’t stand a chance.

I dodge his blade time and again, feeling the whistle of cold steel every time it passes. I manage to pull out my sword and then something unexpected happens. The blade ripples to life with a flash of fire. I thrust the sword in front of me and gape. Holy flaming fire!

The soldier stops and smiles. “Well, well, well. You’re full of surprises.”

“Just wait. I’ve got more,” I say and shrug with a confidence I don’t exactly feel. Hopefully my act has him thinking I’m used to a good flaming sword fight. To back up my false confidence, I find myself lunging forward, my flaming sword slicing toward his head. He spins away and the battle begins in earnest.

I must be crazy. I’ve never fought with a sword. He acts like he was born with it in his hand. His blade comes frighteningly close to my head and cuts off a few strands of my hair before I push him away. Trees are used as vaulting points. Branches as obstacles. Forest debris whirls. We tussle and my sword flies out of my hand.

Desperate for cover, I duck behind a tree, breathless and sore. I’m at my wit’s end. How long can I postpone the inevitable? I duck as his blade swipes at me again. I don’t want to die. Not like this. Not here. Not now.

I’d like to thank Stacey for inviting me here today. There’s no telling what will happen when I commit to a blog post. If you all have any questions for me, don’t hesitate to ask.

Want to know more about Shea? Contact her at: Facebook / / Goodreads / Twitter / Ruby-slippered Sisterhood


elaing8 said...

I've seen this book around. It sounds really good.
Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

Jennifer said...

I would love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.


Niki I said...

I love finding new books to read. Thans for the chance.

kel_p said...

Wow, the excerpt was fantastic, i think i would really enjoy this book :)
Thank you for the competition, i haven't seen this until now but i'm definitely gonna have to grab a copy if i'm not luck enough to win one :)
Good luck everyone! Kel xx

Jen said...

WOW! This looks like my kind of book!!
I could defiantly see myself enjoying it :)

Jen Stewart
stewart.jen16 at gmail dot com

Stacey said...

Congrats to kel_p for being drawn as the winner to receive The Marked Son. Shea Berkley will be in contact with you soon.

Thanks to everyone who entered!


kel_p said...

YAY - thank you heaps :)