Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Tangent with Rory Ni Coileain

Sending Your Bad Guy to Rehab

I had an interesting experience while writing FIRESTORM, the fourth book in my SoulShares series. Once characters are introduced in that series, they stick around – everyone has a part to play in the grand finale in Book Eight. This includes the villain of the series, an unwilling fusion of the Marfach, a supernatural evil being who preys on the Fae and is hot to destroy the entire Fae Realm, and Janek O’Halloran, a former nightclub bouncer who made the mistake of trying to kill the human main character in the first SoulShares book, HARD AS STONE, and was mostly killed for his trouble (and who has a Polish name in honor of my second ex-husband, who has actually turned out to be a pretty decent guy but who was definitely in my bad graces at the time of writing).

And it includes several supporting players, including Bryce Newhouse, a Greenwich Village investment banker who deliberately stole Josh LaFontaine’s former lover (Josh is the human man character in Book Two, GALE FORCE, an amazing tattoo artist and one of the nicest guys on the planet), and who devotes himself, in DEEP PLUNGE and FIRESTORM, to cultivating his own assholeishness and being a burning pain in the ass to everyone who has the misfortune to come in contact with him. (The nicest thing anyone ever calls him in the first four books is Bryce Porn-‘stache.) By the time FIRESTORM comes around, he’s a tool of the Marfach (which was not actually his idea, but one gets the impression that the two/three of them get along, up to a point).
So imagine my surprise, as I’m writing Bryce’s supreme act of perfidy (no, I’m not going to spoil it for you, the book re-issues on June 10 and you can have the fun of finding out what it is for yourself if you don’t already know), when the little fuckknuckle turns to me and says “By the way, the next book’s mine.”

If you know me at all, you know I write very headstrong characters. I generally have no choice but to do what they tell me. And at the time, I hadn’t yet figured out who my human main character was going to be for BLOWING SMOKE. So the role was open and I was still doing casting calls. But… Bryce? Dammit!

But mine not to reason why. And all that stuff.

I have to say, at this point, that the challenge of rehabilitating Bryce, in the course of his own book, rather than while he was “offstage” in someone else’s, to the point where he’s believable as a romance-novel lead, has been one of the most interesting and enjoyable things I’ve ever undertaken. Giving him a back-story that explained why he was the way he was was a fun bit of retrofitting (well, not necessarily “fun” as most people would understand the word, but “fun” for a writer who doesn’t mind torturing her characters in a good cause), and then working out what it took for him to be able to change took me a whole lot deeper into the ramifications of what it actually means to share a soul with someone.

And it let me address some very big questions, questions I don’t think I could have done anything with through my more conventionally nice humans. What do you do when you’ve wronged someone deeply, and there’s no way you can make amends? What happens if you want to change your life, but you have no idea how to be the kind of person you want to become? Is just the wanting enough? How do you love someone else, when you’re sure you’re unlovable? And how do you get past that inner certainty, when everyone you know seems perfectly happy to confirm the truth of it, both to you and to the person you’d probably fall in love with if you only knew how?

The journey to the answers to those questions ultimately became Bryce’s story arc, because I had to feel my way to the answers along with him. And one thing I’m very proud of is that he didn’t become perfect in the process. Even at the end of his own book, he’s still not an easy man to like. But you can see how he could be, to the right man (or Fae), someone to love. (Well, I have to be honest here. There are a few dedicated Bryce-haters out there who have beta-read BLOWING SMOKE for me and aren’t entirely convinced of his rehabilitation. But that would be part of the likely outcome in real life, I’d imagine, for someone like Bryce.)

And if Bryce turns out to be insufficiently rehabilitated for your taste? Well, his book also includes Culin, the world’s cutest blind runt Fade-hound puppy (pictured above, along with me). Adult Fade-hounds resemble Irish wolfhounds, except that they’re the size of large deer, have six-inch fangs, and are merrily carnivorous. Let us all hope that Culin stays small enough to be happy in a Greenwich Village brownstone.

If you’d like to see what a little piece of Bryce’s journey looks like, you can check out my latest blog entry at http://rorynicoileain.com/. And if I can sneak in just a TINY bit of self-promotion here (because I’m so excited this is finally happening, I can hardly sit still), I’ve repurchased the rights to all the SoulShares, and the first four books are being rereleased by Riverdale Avenue Books, one book per week (HARD AS STONE on May 20, GALE FORCE on May 27, DEEP PLUNGE on June 3, and FIRESTORM on June 10). And then, on June 17, BLOWING SMOKE, Bryce and Lasair’s story and the first new SoulShares in over a year! (No buy links yet, alas, but when I get them they’ll be on my blog.)

And, because Tuesdays on Coffee and Porn in the Morning are supposed to be about linking up with those places that make us happy, I’d like to conclude by offering a few of my favorites (other than this very Web site, that is) :

http://shelterpups.com/ -- where I got Culin. They do incredible work, and will make you a custom dog from your photos.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/04/15/the-10-commandments-of-authorial-self-promotion/ -- he made me laugh while talking about marketing. Let no one tell you the age of miracles is past.

http://io9.com/dreamy-video-captures-murmuration-of-starlings-undulati-1690064397 -- birds have Fae souls. I just haven’t figured out how to make that fit with my cosmology yet.

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0001.html -- there, I’ve done it. Now you all know how geeky I am. I started playing Dungeons & Dragons back when the first edition was only “available” in bootleg mimeographed editions (yes, mimeographed, my generation’s inhalant of choice was mimeo fluid and kids today don’t know what they’re missing). And when Belkar encounters the badger, you’re going to need Depends. Trust me.

Rory and Culin
Rory Ni Coileain majored in creative writing, back when Respectable Colleges didn’t offer such a major, so she had to design it herself, at a university which boasted one professor willing to teach creative writing, he being a British surrealist who went nuts over students writing dancing bananas in the snow but did not take well to high fantasy. 

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the age of nineteen, sent off her first short story to an anthology being assembled by an author she idolized, got shot down in flames, and found other things to do, such as going to law school, ballet dancing (at more or less the same time), and nightclub singing, for the next thirty years or so, until her stories started whispering to her. 

Now she’s a lawyer, a legal editor, a soprano/alto/tenor in her church choir, and the mother of a budding filmmaker, and is busily wedding her love of myth and legend to her passion for m/m romance.


  1. Love the new cover, hon. I'm REALLY looking forward to reading Blowing Smoke, and thank you for the glimpse into your brilliant, somewhat twisted (in a good way, of course) mind. =}