Resurrecting Gods and Stealing Names with Anya Richards

This entry is part 2 of 15 in the series Pricked Party

Happy Independence Day, and welcome to Day One of our Pricked Party! This celebrates all of the authors releasing books this month in the Ellora’s Cave themed series. Today I have the prolific Anya Richards here talking about her first of two Pricked books coming out today. You can catch up with Anya at any of these locals: Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads

I’m a huge mythology fan, and I’m not just talking Greek and Roman myths. I like ‘em all and am constantly exploring this fascinating area of human development. For a long time I’ve been considering writing a series using some of the knowledge I’d gathered over the years, but it wasn’t until I saw the Pricked sub call from Ellora’s Cave that it all seemed to come together.

The first book I wrote, Fleeing Fate, is set in The Midnight Café, a tattoo parlor and gathering place on the faie side of the Veil, where all the gods and beings of myth and legend live. Because tattooing there isn’t the same as it is in our world, and the wrong additive to the ink could kill someone, part of the dilemma facing my hero is finding the right way to inscribe an arcane tat on the heroine, who happens to be a banshee.

But before the conflict was fully formed, before I figured out the entire storyline, there was my hero. I could see him—a tall, handsome black man, rather fierce, with tribal scarification marks on his face and torso. He had dreadlocks, was charming, with the kind of flashing smile that just melts a woman’s resistance. There was a dark side to him too, a temper he hadn’t really mastered, even after several centuries of life.

Yep, I could see him, I even had a good idea the part of the world he came from—West Africa—but I didn’t know his name.

I went looking for him in my books and on the internet. I didn’t want a “living” god, one who was still being worshiped, or had been integrated into another religion. I needed a god who had, in effect, died in our world. When I found him, I think I may have done a little dance…

When you meet Jakuta, ex-god of truth, slinger of lightning, banished from the pantheon of the Orixás because of his temper, I think you’ll fall in love with him, just like the heroine Gràinne does.

But it just goes to show even when writing fantasy there can be roadblocks in the creative process. I could have made up a god, imbued him with whatever powers I wanted, but somehow I just knew he was out there, waiting for me to give him another life, so to speak. To invent him from scratch would, to me, be like making up and introducing another god to the Greek, Roman or Norse pantheon. Umm…I wouldn’t be so bold! Well, I’m a writer, so maybe I would, but in this case I’m glad I didn’t have to.

And when I was researching banshees, and found one clan in Scotland who have their own, named, banshee, I knew I’d found another character. Not the heroine in this case, but with a name like Eevul, how the heck could I resist bringing her into it? I hope the clan in question won’t declare war on me for the theft of their banshee!

Because this is release day, and because Fleeing Fate is the first of the Pricked series being released, and because I’m just so damn excited about being here, I’m giving away a copy of Fleeing Fate to a commenter. Tell me if you have a tat and, if not, whether you’d ever get one and why. My lovely hostess, Sidney, will announce the winner tomorrow!

I hope you’ll enjoy the blurb and excerpt below (there’s another excerpt here too), and look out for my other Pricked release, Stone-Hard Passion, coming at the end of the month, but already available for pre-order.

Anya Richards

Journeys Through Seduction

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Fleeing Fate

Anya Richards

Jakuta Dagbo knows bad weather’s approaching, even though the sky above the faie world is clear. And when Gràinne Bairdie walks into The Midnight Café wanting an arcane tattoo, he realizes the tempest raging into his life has nothing to do with wind and rain. Just one look at her brings his storm god libido, and the protective instincts he no longer trusts, to thundering life.

Gràinne’s a banshee on the run, desperate to claim the emotions she’s sure are rightfully hers and with no time to explore the sparks of need flying between herself and Jakuta. What she’s trying to do will bring the wrath of the Banshee Council down on her head, and she knows they’ll do anything to stop her.

Yet, as Gràinne and Jakuta peel back the layers of their lives, searching for the answers she needs, they can’t ignore the lightning-hot passion searing their blood. And when emotion reaches its apex, demanding complete surrender to the cyclone of desire, neither can resist. Even if it means Gràinne’s banshee wail of release will be her last.

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The place really was dead. He had no appointments booked for the night, which wasn’t unusual for a Tuesday. Normally he’d be downstairs trading insults with Ula at the reception desk, playing pool with Hervé or talking philosophy with Bolaka. Tonight—he rubbed his hand over the dreads at the top of his head, trying to quiet the sudden crawling of his scalp—he didn’t want to talk to anyone. His skin tingled as though presaging a lightning strike and his nerves were stretched taut enough to snap.

Thanks be to the gods, Hervé was away at a clan gathering. If he were around, the wyvern would just keep at him, trying to get Jakuta to say exactly what he was feeling, trying to figure out exactly what it all meant. To Hervé instinct guided everything in life, yet could only truly be trusted if dissected and the root of the feeling discovered. Clearly living that way worked well for the dragon, since it had helped him build Midnight Café into a successful business, but the whole concept of examining every little thought and emotion wasn’t Jakuta’s idea of fun.

There was a burst of noise downstairs, the sound of new voices and loud laughter. Probably a group coming in for a couple of drinks and some fun and games—again not unusual for a Tuesday night. Although still primarily known as a tattoo parlor, the Café was becoming more popular as a hangout spot since they’d put in the bar, started selling snacks and offered pool, billiards and darts. It was another of Hervé’s successful innovations, one Jakuta hadn’t been too sure would work out as well as it had.

He suddenly found himself back at the railing, unsure of how he’d gotten there, aware that the sensations that had been plaguing him all evening were intensifying. The blood thundered in his veins. Every hair on his body stood up, electricity dancing over and into his skin. His muscles tightened as a wave of heat pulsed through them to settle low in his gut.

Scanning the scene below, he took in the eclectic group milling about, some heading to the bar, others clustered around one of the pool tables, even more settling in at some of the tables. Taqal had already come out from the back, was circulating through the crowd, handing out menus, taking orders. Directing everything was a tall, skinny witch wearing a wedding veil and an even taller guy, maybe part giant or something, with a top hat perched precariously on one side of his head.

Stag and doe.

Restless, his gaze skimmed over the couple, tracked past everyone in the place to fix on the door. Outside, visible in the light of the Café sign, another group of people approached. Pulling both sides of the double doors open, they streamed in, cries of delight greeting their arrival, the noise level inside rising to suddenly become almost unbearable. The last two newcomers came in, releasing their hold on the doors.

And still Jakuta found himself watching the entrance, unable to tear his gaze away. As though in slow motion the two sides of the door swung inward, the space between them diminishing as they closed. There was no hint of motion beyond them, out in the night.

If he’d blinked he would have missed seeing the woman slip in, as though riding the wake of the previous entrants.

He couldn’t see her face, shaded as it was by the brim of a gray knitted tam. Nor could he discern anything much about her body because of the loose black trench coat, buttoned up to the neck but flapping around her denim-clad legs as she walked. She did nothing to call attention to herself. In fact she moved with the milling crowd as though a part of it, skirting the edges of groups, seeming on the verge of joining first one and then another without actually doing so.

Yet somehow he knew she wasn’t there to celebrate with the happy couple. The ribbons of white-hot electricity zapping along his tribal marks, burning across his face, belly and back, told him so. And an insistent rumble of lust in his blood, slowly rising to a booming crescendo as he tracked her path toward Ula’s desk, reinforced it.

The urge to go downstairs immediately, get closer so as to see her face and hear her voice, was overwhelming but he couldn’t seem to make his body move. Instead, all he could do was stand watching as the woman got to the goblin’s desk and rested her elbows on the elevated top, leaning in to be heard over the increasing din. The coat tightened across her back, giving a hint of the womanly shape beneath the black fabric. His gaze zeroed in on her bared nape and couldn’t be torn away. Something about that taut, pale column, gleaming in the café’s bright lights, made his mouth water.

A trickle of sweat meandered down his spine, and Jakuta swore it sizzled with the heat emanating from his skin.

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