Monday, October 1, 2012

Tarnished Halo by Kayden McLeod and an Interview

Tarnished Halo
Demon Queen #1

XOXO Publishing
August 2012

Buy Now

Liwet is a less-than-lily-white angel, who has a chip on her shoulder just begging for someone to knock it off.

She refuses to come to heel, yet the time for Liwet to play by her own rules has come to an end. Oriax comes back to his old flame, with a proposition he doesn’t want to pursue, and has no choice but to make. Dark, chilling forces beyond Liwet and Oriax’s control drag them back together and down into a rabbit hole so deep, escape is futile. The prince of the underworld wants them in his court; a request never to be taken lightly. Can the couple overcome their pasts, and find each other once more, before it’s too late to save either of them?

Excerpt From "Tarnished Halo"

Ascream sounded from down one of the alleys I’d crossed, but paid no mind while I set my course to where I’d been bid.

Let the humans rot this night, I thought bitterly. Or any other.

What had they done for me? Nothing. Yet I had been borne to be their humble servant, directed by rules I’d never had a say in. Screw it. Screw them. Fuck the world.

I walked down the darkened streets of this forsaken town of lust, greed and sloth, an hour past the twilight settling upon the horizon. I had been a beautiful sunset this eve, with deep hues of violet, crushed orange and vivid blood red. Though I hadn’t enjoyed it.

I didn’t take such pleasures in simple things. I didn’t delight in much anymore—hadn’t in many a year.

The human screamed for help again, and my hand flew up in an unconscious rude gesture in the direction from where it’d come. Another, farther ahead—a painter no less—babbled about needing an idea for a new project.

I rolled my eyes. Fat chance.

That would be my department.

My name is Liwet, the “angel” of inventions, inspirations. A muse. However, I wasn’t pristine as most thought me. I’d been shunned from the normal crowds of my realms, who knew what I was on sight.

I am a demon and an angel, a dirty half-breed, to be pushed to the shadows and forgotten.

But I had long since come to terms with all of this. I tended to stay at the edges of all societies, and took part of none and looking in. Life shopping, I called it. Sort of like window shopping, but I didn’t get to gaze at things I wanted to buy. I just wished it went both ways.

The angels shunned me, but the demons…They wanted me, badly. The supreme notch on their bedposts, to be screwed and discarded, the perfect conquest compared like the women who trolled these streets, ignorant of us.

Most of them were arrogant assholes I could never stand to be near enough to talk to, let alone see naked. Though some were acceptable to be around for short periods of platonic time.

I headed into the darkened back entrance of the Red Corkscrew a bar that fronted the ocean cliffs. It had been named this, because this was the nickname of the Salix matsudana, trees imported from China and planted around the bar. The stems twisted at sharp angles, their color a vivid shade of orangey scarlet, a startling shade to the eye this far into winter. The owner had been quite insistent on these trees be planted everywhere on the one-acre property.

The man had always been strange like that. He was also my half brother.

The moment I’d passed the threshold into the building, I knew he was there, but not a second before he let me.

“Li,” Mastema greeted from the empty back of the kitchen. I could hear the sounds of food being cooked and clinking plates from around the corner, made by demon hands. We weren’t alone, and no doubt brother dear planned this meeting that way.

Mastema was a full demon, one who kept the underworld from interference of his life, by staying quiet. This surprised me, since his life’s purpose was to tempt men toward sin. Even more ironic, he rarely partook in any himself. Mastema denied his most basic principles and instincts, to stay out of hell. And unlike his dangers of damnation, I was exempt, unless I broke the sacred laws applied to being one of the Guides to humanity. Hadn’t happened yet, but I rode the line often, never actually crossing it. Always could, I supposed.

“Why have you called me here?”

“I need you to work tonight. We are unusually busy, and I do not like so many humans mixing with my people, without proper balance in case something happens.”

In other words; he needed someone to kick ass and take names if his brethren stepped out of line. Someone who wasn’t him. Great. Gotta love diplomacy.

“Why me, Mastema?” I asked, determined to be purposely “dumb.” Even though he didn’t let it show, it pissed him off. Good.

And I was just in that kind of mood. Thankfully, half of my status put me almost on his playing field—almost. He had a millennia or two on me. Did wonders for someone’s power.

I made up for it in the pure-pissed-off-bitch factor. I’d had to from square one. The higher powers had decided I wasn’t allowed to learn about certain capabilities I’d been born with, from either side. This, in effect made my best attributes dormant and useless to me. They wanted me this way. Couldn’t have an “angel” running about with demon super-powers. Or some crap like that.

Mastema took on my expression. “You’re being unreasonably pissy tonight.” He crossed his arms over the black material stretching over his wide chest. His thick, muscular body was covered in ritual blue-jeans and a t-shirt, just tight enough to show he was ripped. He’d once told me women liked it. I didn’t know. Being his sister didn’t allow me an opinion on it. “In fact, a lot lately.”

I didn’t reply to the statement. I wanted to turn and leave, though if I did, Mastema would only talk me into staying. Had I left in his time of need, one of my few sanctuaries would be lost to me, until my brother had unruffled his feathers. That could be decades. Immortality wrecked havoc one’s conception of time.

“What do you need?”

“You, on the bar,” Mastema muttered. “Nicor heard about a thunderstorm near to coast and…”

“Decided to go play in it?”

My brother nodded, but never with disgust. Full-blood demons that chose to stay on earth for long periods very rarely had the chance to act or be who they really were. When the chance presented itself, they took it.

“I allowed him to go—it has been too long for him to touch base with himself. Acting human so much does things to a demon’s mind.”

I winced. In a backward way, the barb had been intended for me, not Nicor.

“Of course,” I relented.

“I suspect the rush will only get worse the later it gets. But I do have to warn you… Oriax is here tonight, with his friends.”

My mind stilled from hearing that damned name! “What?” This time, I didn’t act stupid for any petty impulse. The sheer memory of the man did one of two things; froze me solid, or made my blood boil. “You expect me not to throw something at him in the course of an entire evening? Fifteen minutes is pushing it.”

Mastema rolled his eyes, then pushed off of the counter’s edge, with a sleek roll of threatening sinew. “Behave.”

The warning didn’t go unheeded, though my eyes darkened and burned when he turned from me and began walking further into the kitchen. I followed only somewhat dutifully. We cut around the corner, emerging into the timeless art and war of fast-paced cooking. Ten or so bodies moved with methodical energy and flow.

Not a human in the bunch.

None of the minor or half-blood demons looked up from what they were doing. Their movements would be blurry to an untrained eye, with too quick dexterity they didn’t bother to hide in the safety of the enclosed kitchen.

The smell of grilled beef and frying oil for the fries wafted to me, making my stomach rumble. Though I wouldn’t eat most of what these demons served. The demonic clientele didn’t care for their meat cooked. The staff would just barely sear it on the outside, so the humans who ventured in here couldn’t tell the difference at first glance. Happy mediums.

I snagged a fry as I passed, bringing it half-way to my mouth when Mastema whirled, with a nasty scowl on his face.

“What? Did you want me to put it back?”

Mastema shook his head. “You know you may eat anything you want.” He stared behind me so hard, I turned my head to see what was there. “But we have a problem.”

“You always have a problem—whatever could it be this time?”

He growled at my impertinence. “Have you fallen so low that you walk in this realm with your wings exposed, and making no move to hide them? Are you looking to get thrown into the hell realms?”

“Humans cannot see them whether I conceal my wings or not,” I replied coldly.

The fry cook looked up from his station with shining black eyes. Our gazes connected, and I knew then he approved of my refusal to act as if I were the other race.

“Those are the rules. You risk a great deal to break them. We are granted very limited access to this world, and you are part demon. You have the obligation to keep your nose clean—you never know when you just might mess it up for the rest of us.”

“I tire of living in secret,” I argued. “If I had the same benefits the rest of you do…”

Mastema snarled, raking a hand through his hair. “I might have more power and ability to use them, I will give you that. However, I am not permitted to do anything with them, anymore than you can. Just by being here on earth, we have to act like we don’t even exist. Every wrong move you make, tightens the collar around the necks of the rest of us.”

I hated it when he made sense! My stubborn nature reared its head nonetheless. “I will no longer be spurred under someone else’s terms. Only full-bloods can see these black-feathered contraptions and the otherworldly glow those angels gave me, the same combination that condemned me from birth. So now, I will be upfront about it. At least then I can see their sneers upfront, know what they think, before they even say a word.” My chin went up. “I am sorry if it causes you danger, I really am.” I spoke to the kitchen as a whole, who had stopped around me. Had my words been so very shocking? My brother’s eyes had softened, causing a similar reaction in the very small part of my heart holding affection for him. “I have to feel like I’ve done something to be an outcast. Mastema, don’t take that from me.”

“You risk much.”

“And you’re a coward,” I whispered. They all were. “Just because I cannot see your wings nor horns, does not mean they are not there. You have modified the color of your skin, so it looks more tanned than burnt red, but it is only a secondary appearance to what you really look like.”

“And your point?”

I swore every set of lungs around us stopped breathing, awaiting my answer. “This is what I look like.”

With a curt nod, Mastema’s falsely blue eyes hardened into ice-chips. Really, they were a pitiless black. The absence of color stretched from lid to lid—like the fry cook’s. My brother didn’t care for my assessment. He couldn’t deny it either.

“So be it, sister. But if the powers that be come down on your head…”

“It’s on me, Mastema. Promise.”

“Let’s go then. We have quite the crowd to keep happy tonight.”

Ascending Hell
An interview with Kayden McLeod ~ 

Can you tell a little about your recent release, Tarnished Halo?

 Tarnished Halo is the first installment in the Demon Queen. Liwet is a half angel, half demon, with a chip on her shoulder a mile wide. She is torn between her angelic and demonic identities that constantly war for dominance over her psyche. For the past thousand years, she’s fulfilled her imposed duties as an angel of Inventions and Inspirations. But recently the demon lords have demanded her instant obedience after ignoring her existence for her entire life. What they ask of her rubs against the grain, but she is helpless to fight their orders, until she can find a trump card.

 Tell us a little something special about the hero, Oriax ~

Oriax is a walking enigma. He is by birthright a Prince of hell. His brother, Gaap doesn’t share power very well, and long ago tricked him into a series of deals that banished Oriax from hell, and his own realm, Shadowdyn for centuries. But the time has come where all deals are off, and Gaap is scrambling to find a way survive Oriax’s wrath. The solution falls into his lap, when he discovers during Oriax’s time as earthbound, he’d dated the half demon, half angel, Liwet. Gaap invokes old laws, forcing them to marry and rule the hell realm, hopefully causing the people of Shadowdyn to mutiny, and kill both of them, leaving Gaap’s path to power completely clear

Where'd you find the inspiration for The Demon Queen?

Liwet is a character I once created for a free multi-story blog project with fellow authors and friends, Cindy Jacks and Kirsten Manter, called Tales of Erosity/Dark Angel. Long after the project finished, this particular character bounced around my head like a hyperactive kid in a candy store. After talking the matter over with my fellow authors, they gave me the go ahead to take this character to the next level, with new adventures and characters to publish.

Wow, you have so many worlds in your books you are juggling at one time ~ how in the world do you keep track?

It’s not an easy task, but with a schizophrenic muse that demands constant attention, we make it work, most of the time. I have the vampires, fairies (YA), BDSM Dom/s, and more recently, shifters that all come from different world rules. I have notes, very disorganized, chaotic messes, but they help jog my memory as I dart back and forth between series, like a chicken with my head cut off to keep up with Ms. Muse and her wonderful, inspired “Ideas.” Ahem—insanity. But don’t tell her that. She’s temperamental.


Do you ever find yourself slipping up?

 I do quite often! A lot of it I catch in editing, sometimes I don’t. And it’s never something like an eye color. For some reason, I’m really good with that particular brand of details. I’m immensely blessed with the proof-reading Goddess Stacey, who has edited my work for a while now. She knows my worlds, sometimes I believe, as well as I do. And she’s a hawk when it comes to details.


What can your readers look forward to next from Kayden McLeod?

 Ascending Hell, the second book in the Demon Queen series is coming out with XOXO Publishing later this year. Hopefully early 2013, Heart of Shadowdyn, the third installment will be completed. Right now, I’m flying through a shifter romance called Jaguar, and working on my Kinsey Knight YA fantasy series, Elemental.


Any juicy tidbits you want to throw out there from Tarnished Halo?

Nothing is quite as it seems with this book, and is only the introduction to the main characters, Liwet and Oriax, along with all the items I have planned for this series. Ascending Hell will bring the header further into the political world of the demon lords, and just how twisted, unexpected Gaap and his fellows can be.

Kayden lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with a houseful of animals and a computer she might as well be shackled to.
She's been writing about this world of vampires, magic, ghosts, witches, demons and beyond since she was seventeen, still possessing that first 140,000-word book that took her almost five years to write. That one book multiplied, and still does. While it started everything, it has been split up, fragmented till all is now, is an outline.
Having a weakness for vampire folklore, movies and books for more years than she can count, it shaped her figurative realm in so many ways, but many more characters have also popped up in the last year or two. There are even Deities kicking around, with their own mischief to be had.
To date, this string of books She's written break down into so many series that intertwine and collide, giving the chance for the characters to grow in so many ways. And there is still so much to write, so many ideas to be had...
But Kayden hopes the end result is a book that you can't put down until the very end, but that is every new author's fondest wish, isn't it?
Happy Reading...
Kayden McLeod

No comments:

Post a Comment