A huge thank you to Jamie for hosting me on the blog today. My new release, Death Mask, came out on November 9th. It’s a part of the Roughhouse Raiders collection from Less Than Three Press. Today I wanted to talk about the characters and why I chose the theme of death.
I went through a phase shortly after my father passed away on November 12, 2014, and I became obsessed with building a world that explained the how and whys of death. I love ancient history where the origins of thought and religion usually goes hand in hand with a culture’s rise and fall from power.
I’m guessing that you won’t be surprised that I fixated on the grim reaper. It’s hard to describe what I was doing as I read through all kinds of reference material on the subject. The search was very much an act of dealing with and excising my grief. In the process, I ended up creating an origin story for angels of death. I needed to take them away from being “bad” and placing them in a better light. In order to do that, I had to understand today’s view and how it evolved. I’m not one who believes in angels, mostly because I know the history of their emergence into the different cultures, but I found comfort in the philosophy behind them.
When I began world building for Death Mask, I included characters that meddled in death in some way. Hedge witches that are able to walk that land between life and death. Warlocks who have control over a gray (meaning ambiguous, not good and not bad) magic. If they want more power then they dip their toes on the dark side of the line they’re balanced on. If they are seduced by the magick then they can eventually become black magic users and they walk a path of murderous death. The shifters are more dangerous, on lists of “most likely to kill you” in real life such as snake and scorpion shifters. Rats whose very presence brings disease, therefore death. Domestic cat shifters who aren’t only familiars to magick users but ancient cultures believed they walked among the gods or led souls to the afterlife. I put a lot of thought into The Black Harbinger MC, pulling all of these concepts and ideas into one place. Perhaps it makes me a bit morbid but I loved writing this story and there is something about it that makes me happy. When I was reading through the edits, I was positively giddy, smiling like an idiot, because in the end, I love this story to pieces. Perhaps it’s all the fun I had building the world and the origin stories that gives me joy. I don’t know. What I do know, is that as fantastical as this Death Mask is, it has a special place in my heart.
Thank you for stopping by and reading!!
Title: Death Mask
Series: Black Harbingers MC
Author(s): Lexi Ander
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
Categories: Gay, Urban Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Roughhouse Raiders
Length: 43,000 words
Release Date: November 9, 2016
Grim Misery, the President of the Black Harbinger Motorcycle Club, discovers a wounded warlock and four werepups aboard the club’s LSD shipment. And the news kept getting better and better. Not only is the warlock sitting on the edge of death, he’s illegally bonded to the werepups, which could trigger a war with the werewolves—and he turns out to be Misery’s estranged husband.
Years ago, Griffin turned Misery away to be with another warlock by the name of Marcheso Aldo. Misery left everything behind, even his family, but couldn’t shake the heartbreak Griffin caused. With Griffin thrust back into Misery’s life, he discovers things aren’t as they seem… and everything is about to get much, much worse.
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~Norman Cousins
“Prez, you’re gonna want to take a look at this.” Nightingale, Sergeant in Arms of the Black Harbingers MC, called to me from the tail end of the box truck that recently arrived from the docks. The products the vehicle carried included the much-awaited shipment of LSD for the city’s elder vampires. The goods were late by one week, and I had some agitated parasites on my hands. If someone so much as fucked with the shite, they would be in a world of hurt, because I had no qualms feeding the arseholes to the bloodsuckers.
The clubhouse for the MC was a repurposed three-story library. The block had been slated for demolition after World War II to make way for a strip mall or some such. I loved the building, with its Grecian columns, marble floors, and the liberal use of dark woods. She had character, and after I greased a few palms, she became our clubhouse, our home.
On the ground floor, to the rear of the building, were two bay doors. Semis could back up to one of them, allowing people to walk into the bed without using a ramp. The second bay, vehicles drove directly onto the dock. Granted, unloading the boxes was harder, but we didn’t have to worry about prying eyes and for this shipment, we needed complete privacy.
By the tone of Night’s voice, I wouldn’t like what I’d see. One of the prospects had been sent to retrieve the truck from the docks. Not quite members of the MC, prospects were initiates working through the probationary period. Simply put, they were the club’s gofers. They did anything and everything the brothers asked of them. They guarded the bikes in public places, manned the doors at the parties, and made sure no one unauthorized entered the clubhouse. If a brother’s old lady needed to go somewhere, a prospect escorted them. The list of shitty duties was endless. At the end of the probation period, the brothers voted the prospect in or out, but until then, the prospect did what they were told, without complaint. Our newest prospect, Tinman, who’d picked up the box truck, stood off to the side looking concerned, but not afraid.
“The truck was where you’d said it’d be, Misery. There weren’t any problems and no one followed me,” he said, without prompting.
When I rounded the rear of the non-descript vehicle, the door was rolled up, exposing the back of the compartment, stacked with boxes. Nightingale stood with his arms crossed over his chest, his cut hidden by the muscular bulk of his arms. At one time, he’d been a Noble Fae. From which court, I’d never asked. When most preternaturals came looking to join the Black Harbingers, they left behind who they once were. The brothers only cared about the here and now, content to leave whatever hell they’d escaped in the past. We all carried secrets best left undisturbed, and we let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak.
Those who didn’t know of Nightingale’s origins wouldn’t have believed he belonged to that waif-like race. He’d shed his litheness, becoming a motherfucking powerhouse of strength and muscle. Even his unnaturally-white hair, which many people assumed the poor bastard had gone gray early, didn’t soften his appearance. Most bikers didn’t have facial piercings because they stumbled into too many fistfights, but not Night. He wore a ring in the right nostril and two in his bottom lip that he fiddled with when something bothered him, like now. When he met my gaze, his green eyes were troubled. Then the scent hit me.
When I went to ask what the fuck he was waiting for, Night placed a pale finger over his lips, biding me to listen. The sound was faint, but the soft whines of some kind of dog or… Well, fuck me sideways.
“Someone find Hog and Lalios.” My request was made in a low voice, but the brothers jumped to it as if I’d yelled. Perhaps they felt my tension or they, too, scented the blood wafting from the back of the truck, now that the door had been raised.
More than one person drew a weapon. Grabbing the handrail on the side of the door, I readied to climb into the back.
“Misery,” Night called to me softly, but I ignored him.
Even if werewolves had hidden in the truck, I didn’t worry about my safety. The sound of the pitiful, tiny snarls and growls intensified when my heavy boots struck the bed. Pausing to listen, I couldn’t hear an adult voice among the pups. With the scent of blood heavier in the confines of the cabin, I surmised the parent was severely injured. A werewolf in pain was a dangerous creature, more animal than man. Blinded by the agony, instinct would take over, and he, or she, would attack first to protect their young. If that were to happen, then I was the one equipped to handle the werewolf. Sure, I could be hurt like anyone else, but I was hard to kill. Living for almost two hundred years had proven that.
Listening intently, I heard three, perhaps four distinct voices, which was surprising. Nowadays, werewolves lived longer than they did five hundred years ago. When they became the stuff of folklore, people stopped hunting them. Since they lived a more peaceful existence, the number of litters they birthed dropped off to where pups were now born singly to couples every hundred years or so. The young were precious to the packs and there being four here made my skin crawl with foreboding. The day kept getting better and better.
The giveaway will run through midnight on November 25th.
Must be 18 or order to participate.
Giving Away Two (2) Signed Paperbacks of Death Mask
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
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