Today we welcome award-winning romance and urban fantasy author Seressia Glass. Seressia is a voracious reader whose early written works range from an autobiography written on a piece of gum to the first winning essay in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Living the Dream contest. Her books have multiple nominations and several wins in both the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and the Romance in Color Reviewers' Choice Awards. Her newest release, the dynamite urban fantasy Shadow Chase, earned a 5-star review from Affair de Coeur.
Welcome, Seressia! Who are the hero and heroine of Shadow Blade, and what’s their biggest problem?
The heroine is Kira Solomon. She catalogues ancient artifacts by day, but at night she’s a Shadow Chaser—a paranormal bounty hunter sent after the baddest of the bad, the Fallen, who use humans as their Avatars. The hero is Khefar, a 4,000 year-old Nubian warrior who has been tasked to save a life for every life that he took to avenge his family’s death. Kira can’t touch another human being without killing them and Khefar lives for the day he can die for good and be reunited with his family.
You draw on Egyptian culture for this book. Please tell us about that.
Well, I love ancient Egypt. Any documentary I can watch, exhibit I can see, or book I can get my hands on, I do. I’ve wanted an opportunity to write about my obsession for a while. So having my main characters worship Egyptian goddesses (Kira follows Ma’at, Khefar follows Isis) worked well, and fit into the mythos of the world I created. There will be a lot of Egyptian culture to come, and some African mythos will appear in there too. In fact, the spider god Anansi is an indelible part of the books.
What was the most fun part of writing this book, and what was hardest?
The most fun, of course, was getting to write fantasy with just a touch of romance. The hardest part was writing fantasy with just a touch of romance. To be true to the characters, I couldn’t rush them into a relationship or even into intimacy—a woman who has spent her entire life avoiding contact with people isn’t going to easily fall into bed, even if she has found the one person she can touch with impunity. Trying to switch from a romance author used to writing 3-4 love scenes to an urban fantasy author who needs more action of a different sort was a hard switch to make. I think I did the story justice though.
Can we peek inside?
Kira kept her word, not that it mattered much. Lonnie and some of his friends caught her about half a block from the DMZ, their bikes circling hers. Her Buell could outrun their glorified mopeds easily, even though it was built like a tank and weighed nearly as much. But driving all over the city would do nothing but waste time and gas and make her cranky. They were asking for it and she would be happy to give it to them—but she really didn’t have much time to play.
Going to see Demoz had been a gamble that didn’t pay off as she’d hoped it would. Not only had she wound up with minimal information—that an Avatar was in town looking for something, information that might or might not be connected to Bernie and the dagger—the wager had cost her a couple of spells. Worse, it had cost her time. Every moment she didn’t spend chasing Bernie’s killer was another advantage for whoever had killed him. With nothing else to go on, she’d have to return to the alley and hope Gilead was done with the clean up but had still left enough she could pick up a trail. The sooner she got back to the scene of the crime, the more likely the chances she’d find some sort of lead.
The halflings tried to pen her in as she headed towards Peachtree Street. As if. She’d learned a thing or two from some of the best stunt riders in the country and these idiots were totally amateur. Dropping her visor, Kira bent low over her handlebars, calling her power. Blue light flared from her bare hands, spilling onto the handgrips and down through the frame. It was the only warning she intended to give them. Not her fault if they ignored it.
They ignored it. One of Lonnie’s buddies, grinning and whooping and looking eerily like a hyena, made a grab for the clutch when he got close enough. Her power flared. Hyena-boy’s hand flew in one direction while he and his bike went careening into another.
One down, three to go.
At midnight, North Avenue, which ran east to west, was largely deserted. Smart cops gave the DMZ and its clientele a wide berth—it was just safer and saner that way. The closer they got to Peachtree Street the more likely Normal police would be on patrol.
Kira could see the three remaining bikers in her mirrors, too stupid or too mad at her for embarrassing them in the club to go back for their fallen friend. With her extrasense guiding the bike, she dropped her left hand to tap a panel open and pulled out a modified Glock 19. Normal ammunition didn’t down hybrids permanently and despite her irritation she didn’t want to feed her power to the bullets in order to kill them. Killing required too much paperwork. Being shot still hurt like a bitch no matter what you were and she didn’t mind hurting them at all. “Possible wounding” didn’t entail filling out a form and the hybrids would heal soon enough.
Movement in the right mirror caught her eye; Lonnie had decided to make his move. “Time to end this.”
She pulled the clutch in then hit the front brake. Her body rocked forward as the back of the bike lifted. She felt the sweet spot—the balance point—as Lonnie and his buddy zoomed past her. Jamming her knees into the gas tank, she let the bike roll forward balanced on its front wheel and fired off two rounds left-handed. Both hybrids and their rides slid an impressive distance as she dropped the back tire to the pavement.
Three down, one to go.
She circled around to face the final biker. He’d stopped in the middle of the street, jaw hanging as he stared at the speedbumps his friends had become. She pushed up her visor. “You want some?”
His eyes ping-ponged between her and his fallen buddies. “Screw this!”
He burned rubber turning his bike around to head back toward the DMZ—and crashed into the grill of a huge black SUV with blackout windows that couldn’t have been more conspicuous if its license plate read FEDS. Except it wasn’t the FBI.
The SUV’s passenger and driver’s doors opened simultaneously and two tall men in suits exited onto the street. The Gilead Commission’s version of the Men in Black. They even wore sunglasses and it had to be after midnight and the streetlighting didn’t exactly cause a glare. It made her wonder if there were souls specifically destined for bureaucracy or if it was payment for wrongdoing in a previous life.
They paid no attention to the biker now attached to the front of their vehicle as they walked toward Kira.
She pulled back her extrasense as the suits stopped in front of her. “Took you long enough.”
You had an interesting writing journey to this point. Please tell us about and share your call story--we love those!
Way back in 1997, I sent off a proposal for my very first book, No Commitment Required, to Genesis Press. In March of 1998 I got a request for the full, so I sent that in. In June, I was training a bunch of associates for a new store opening in North Augusta, SC. I was on I-20 driving back across the state line when my then boyfriend called and said I got a letter back from Genesis Press. I asked what size it was and how thick was it. He said letter size, and I immediately thought rejection, but then he said it was thick, so I thought rejection with revisions. I asked him to open the letter and read it to me. Mind you, I am still driving on the highway. I hear, “Ms Glass, We are pleased to accept your manuscript for publication…” I started screaming at that point, managed to swerve off the exit an make it to my hotel, still screaming. I remember calling Emily Sewell and telling her. But my first “call” was actually from my boyfriend, telling me that Genesis Press had sent me a contract for No Commitment Required.
My second call story was from some friends starting up a small press, Parker Publishing. It went something like this: “How would you like to be in an anthology with LA Banks?” My response isn’t for tender ears, but went something like this: “Are you %##!@ kidding me? Hellz yeah!” Luckily they were my friends and forgave me. That was my right turn into paranormal romance, writing “Double Down” for the Vegas Bites anthology.
My third call story again highlights the power of networking. I’d had bits and pieces of Shadow Blade lying about, tinkering when I had the chance. A writer I knew online, Stacia Kane, emailed me one day and asked if I had any urban fantasy style stuff I was working on. I told her yeah, and sent her the beginning of SB. She liked it, we tweaked it and then she told me that she’d mentioned the story to her editor and that I should send it in. I did, and got an email back saying Juno was interested in publishing it. Big news followed by the bigger news that Juno became part of Pocket! So “the call” that got me my first NY deal was all done via email, but a lovelier Christmas present I’ve yet to receive!
The second book in this series, Shadow Chase, is due out in July. Can you tell us a little about it?
In book two, we leave Atlanta for a bit and travel to London and to Cairo. There are more surprises in store for Kira and her team, discoveries that make her question who and what she is.
As a Shadowchaser, Kira Solomon has been trained to serve the Light, dispatch the Fallen, and prevent the spread of chaos. It’s a deadly job, and Kira knows the horror of spilling innocent blood. But now she has a new role, as the Hand of Ma’at, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order, and an assignment that might just redeem her.
A fellow Shadowchaser has gone missing, and so has a unique artifact imbued with astonishing magic. Unless the Vessel of Nun is returned, it will cause destruction beyond anything the modern world has seen. Kira’s got a team at her back, including Khefar, a near-immortal Nubian warrior who’s already died for her once. But as complicated as her feelings for him are, they’re nothing compared to the difficulties of the task she faces. And the only way to defeat the enemy is to trust in a power she can barely control, and put her life—and her soul—on the line.
For more about Seressia and her work, visit her website.