Friday, October 7, 2016

The Temptation of Dragons

I never thought I’d be writing about dragons. Don’t get me wrong; dragons are cool. They were just never my “thing.” They seemed so overused in fantasy (the genre I thought I’d be writing in forever) that I always steered clear of them. I didn’t want to write what everyone else was writing, and everyone else seemed to be heavily influenced by Tolkien. The Hobbit’s Smaug (and to be honest, Tolkien in general) never really grabbed my interest, though I’ve always had a soft spot for Eustace Scrubb in Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Scrubb’s transformative moment of waking up as a dragon because of his own greed and discovering how lonely he was in his self-centered bitterness was one of the more touching storylines in the Chronicles of Narnia.

When I shifted my writing focus from fantasy to paranormal romance, I figured dragons were permanently out of the picture. After all, they aren’t so much paranormal creatures as fantastical ones. But when I started writing a series set in the Arizona Desert Southwest—the last place I would have expected it to happen—I somehow stumbled into writing a world of dragon shifters.

In the first book in the series, the hero is a scion of Quetzalcoatl. I hadn’t thought of the Aztec god as a dragon. Technically, he’s a feathered serpent. But as I read about Quetzalcoatl, it dawned on me that a serpent with wings was pretty much a dragon, and the more I looked into dragon lore around the world, the more the idea of dragons grew on me. Still, I stuck with Quetzalcoatl because he was so different from traditional dragon lore—and he was a god, which was all the better. But then I started on Book 2, and found myself with a bonafide traditional-fantasy-style dragon in the middle of my heroine’s living room.

Dragons can be found in the mythologies of just about every region of the world, from snake-like beings with stubby legs that slither close to the ground to fire-breathing reptiles with webbed wings that hoard gold and speak the language of humans. It kind of makes you wonder if a few remnants of the dinosaur age may have lasted into early hominid times, sticking around in the collective unconscious and passed down through oral storytelling as human language developed.

The dragon myth can also be found in the Judeo-Christian creation story, with the serpent in the Garden of Eden tempting Eve—the concept of the Christian nemesis in serpentine form repeated in the tale of St. George defeating the dragon, and eventually to return as the seven-headed beast heralding the end of the world.

It’s the Eden story that influenced the idea of temptation in my series, Sisters in Sin, in which a group of sisters are fated to fall in love with dragon shifters. Book 1, Waking the Serpent, due out in December from Harlequin Nocturne, is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The Millionaire's Redemption… 

When Sedona's most eligible bachelor is accused of murdering a local psychic, medium Phoebe Carlisle finds herself drawn into the danger that surrounds him—by the meddling of the shades she channels and by his irresistible charms. A public defender and a gifted medium, Phoebe is devoted to justice—and not just for the living. Proving Rafe Diamante's innocence means conjuring up two shades who were former lovers and now ignite the chemistry between their hosts.

Rafe can't afford to lose control and act on his feelings for Phoebe. His unfulfilled sexual tension begins to stir something inside him—the legacy of Quetzalcoatl. But as these newfound abilities awaken a dormant power in Rafe, can he stop the real murderer in time to claim his true destiny?

Excerpt from Waking the Serpent:

Rafe Diamante wasn’t at all what she’d expected. Waiting for him in an interrogation room, Phoebe had been picturing a man in his sixties with a beer belly and a receding hairline. Apparently she was thinking of his father. This Rafe Diamante was perhaps thirty, tall, hard and lean—a fact accentuated by the white T-shirt hugging his abs—his skin a deep coppery brown, as though he worked the construction sites himself. Far from a receding hairline, he had a rich, dark head of hair with a wavy curl to it, tied back in a short ponytail, while penetrating brown eyes glowered at Phoebe from under some serious eyebrows. Damn. He could excavate at her place any time.
When he spoke, the illusion of hotness was shattered. “You’re Phoebe Carlisle? Un-fucking-believable.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’re a goddamn Girl Scout.”
Dropping the hand she’d extended when he was escorted in, Phoebe sat across from him, taking her tablet out of her bag and flipping the cover open before making a point of tugging her bouncy ponytail tighter behind her head. “I made Cadette, actually. But the uniform doesn’t really fit anymore and I got stuck on the goddamn deportment badge.”
Diamante wasn’t amused. “Do you even have a law degree?”
“Mr. Diamante, I’m an assistant public defender. You don’t get that position without having a law degree and having passed the bar. But I’m quite certain you’re aware of that. You’re the one who called me, if you remember.”
He folded his arms—such an impressive display of his biceps she almost expected him to beat his chest—and deepened his glower. “You were recommended to me.”
“So you said. I have to confess, Mr. Diamante, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t already have a lawyer who represents your family and your business—someone who I’m sure has the requisite gray hair to satisfy your age requirement. And a penis.”
The corner of his mouth twitched and his glower warmed as if he would have smiled if he wasn’t concentrating so hard on being on the offensive—a tiny sign he might not be a complete douche. “I can’t use my family’s lawyer. It’s complicated. But I can certainly afford exceptional legal counsel. Your recommendation, however, involved a specific unique skill.”
It was Phoebe’s turn to stifle a mouth twitch. “What skill would that be?”
“I was told you’re…” Diamante paused and the tips of his ears turned an adorable pink. “A step-in.”
Her amusement at his boyish blush dissipated instantly. Phoebe flipped the cover back onto her tablet as she rose. She remembered now why his name seemed familiar. It wasn’t just the construction signs. The outline of his pendant was visible under the shirt—she’d been thinking it was some kind of saint medallion. It was a pentacle. He belonged to her sister’s coven.
“A step-in, Mr. Diamante, as you well know, is an unanchored shade. Not the vehicle. That’s an offensive term for someone who does what I do, and I won’t sit here and put up with your bigoted insults just because you’ve gotten yourself into some kind of metaphysical bind and can’t use Daddy’s money to get you out of it.”
Phoebe turned on her heel and headed for the door, anger at Ione making the blood pound in her ears. Ione had never had any respect for her younger sister, imagining herself morally superior because she had the backing of a group of twelve equally uptight jerks behind her. And now she had the gall to tell this rich-boy witch Phoebe could defend him because he’d murdered a psychic?
“Wait. Ms. Carlisle.” Diamante rose and came around the table, grasping for her arm before she could open the door.
Phoebe moved out of his reach with a smooth sidestep and turned the handle, facing him as she did a quick twist to go through the door. “I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding another lawyer with your charming personality.” The multilayered insult was probably lost on him.
“Not one who can talk to the people I’m trying to help.”
Phoebe paused. “What people?”
“The shades.”
He was full of crap. “Exactly how would someone of your affiliation be helping shades? I think you’re confusing ‘help’ with ‘persecute.’”
“I don’t share the majority opinion of the Covent.”
The name always annoyed her. They couldn’t just use “coven” like normal people. They had to be snooty about it.
Diamante was unconsciously rubbing the pentacle through his shirt—an unfortunately sexy quirk. “If you’d come back in and close the door, I’ll be more candid. And I apologize. I didn’t realize that was an offensive term.” He looked annoyed, as though he’d never needed to apologize before. Which strained credulity.
Phoebe stepped back inside and shut the door, leaning against it with her briefcase in front of her as if to ward off any underhanded spell-casting. “All right. I’m listening.”


Nancy Gideon said...

OooooO! Love the excerpt and your post, Jane. I think I found myself a new series.

Diane Burton said...

Exciting concept. Love that the series takes place in Arizona. Best wishes on your new project.

J Hali Steele said...

I love shifter stories and I think dragons are magnificent creatures. Awesome cover!

Maureen said...

There's just something fascinating about dragons. Thank you for the great post with enlightening information about them. Your new book sounds awesome!

CJ Burright said...

Yeah! A dragon convert! :)

Barbara Edwards said...

I love dragons. Thanks for sharing

Jane Kindred said...

Thanks, everyone! Glad to see some more dragon fans out there. :)

Victoria Craven said...

How creative is it to do a romance with a dragon. It sounds very sexy. I'm looking forward to it coming out.

Sandy Wright said...

It makes perfect sense to me that dragons would exist in Arizona. Perfect climate, and we already have Gila Monsters and scorpions. Dragons fit right in.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Wonderful excerpt and I really enjoyed your post, Jane. I will keep the eye-strain going for you here in Tucson (Oro valley, but close enough)!