One of my favorite authors is here today with a red hot excerpt and a giveaway just for readers of this blog. This is one great vampire book!
I’m here on Tali’s blog to promote my latest novel, The Valjevo Encounter. Thanks for hosting me, Tali, and also thanks so much for helping with my book blurb—I swear those are more difficult to write than the novel itself. [Tali note: I used to hate writing blurbs, but they have become lots more fun over the years!]
Today’s blog topic for me is themes. Like most authors, there are reoccurring themes that show up in my stories.
One of my favorite themes is character growth. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, duh! If there’s not growth, what’s the story?” Characters can grow and change in small ways or in bigs ways during the course of a story. When we meet him, Melvin is in his senior year of college, a young, naïve virgin who is, in some ways, foolish (but hopefully still lovable). In fact, at the beginning of the story he still goes by his childhood nickname, Tigger. During the course of the story he learns some hard lessons, loses his virginity (of course J), and finally sheds “Tigger” to go by “Mel.”
The changes in Guy, our other MC, are abrupt and dramatic. He goes almost instantly from not caring about anything or anyone except his job, hunting vampires, to an extreme obsession with Mel. A big part of this is pysiological in the beginnning. Guy is a paranormal and Mel’s presence and scent trigger a deep, instinctual need to mate with him. Suddenly there is a person in his life who is important—more important than anything else, and Guy is definitely not prepared for that. In fact, he’s in denial for a good part of the novel (lol).
Another theme I like to write about is control. I like to show my characters struggling with control, either because control has been taken away from them, or they are having trouble controling themselves. In The Valjevo Encounter, Mel has control taken away from him when he is shanghaied into protective custody at Guy’s residence. He becomes, virtually, a prisoner, living with a man he has a serious crush on who seems to be avoiding him. Finally, frustration with the situation gets the better of him and he escapes only to fall right into Valjevo’s clutches. Then he really has no control of the situation whatsoever.
Guy’s control issues mainly center around self-control. He doesn’t understand his sudden obession with Mel, but he doesn’t seem to be able to quash it either. Every time he’s near Mel, it becomes of battle of mind over instinct as he fights to control his raging libido.
I think it’s likely that, as I write more novels, some of them will have religion as a major theme. I am fascinated by man’s relationship with God, whatever that may be, and by the social and societal prescriptions and implications that stem from it. In The Valjevo Encounter, I touch on this theme, although I don’t delve too deeply into it. Melvin’s religious beliefs are not discussed, although he does agree to wear the cross that Guy brings him “for his protection.” So, one can infer that he is, at least, not antireligious. Guy, on the other hand, was brought up in a strict Catholic family, and although he’s left the Catholic faith because they don’t accept his homosexuality, he hasn’t been able to leave his beliefs behind. When he is confronted with situations where he feels helpless and (here’s that word again) out of control—desperate—he turns to prayer. He is also burdened with a great deal of guilt, some of it steming from his religious upbringing. There is also a subplot involving priests and Valjevo, but again, I don’t analyze the religious implications here. I didn’t want to bog the story down and, truthfully, I’m still not sure exactly what I want to say about religion. However, it’s bound to come out in another novel at some point. J
Another reocurring theme for me appears to be rape. It certainly figured prominently in Rough Boys. In The Valjevo Encounter, it is a relatively minor plot point, although I’ll likely pick up that thread—not another rape, but some discussion of the psychological consequences—in the sequel. Rape is also a central theme in the short story I wrote, “Pierced,” although that was not because I wanted to write yet another rape story, it was because “Pierced” was written for the anthology, Hunting Under Covers, which has a scavenger hunt theme. One of the themes that readers had to find (not chosen by me) was non-con. I was one of the last authors to agree to write a story for the anthology and that was what was left, themewise.
Perhaps one of the reasons non-con seems to creep into most of my novels is that I like to explore people’s limits. I like to put characters in extremely challenging, often brutal, situations and see what they do. I’m fascinated by the resiliancy of some people in the face of adversity. Another major theme you’ll find running through my stories is hurt/comfort, and in order to have comfort and show healing, first you have to have hurt. Although I’ll probably try to avoid another full rape scene in my stories for quite some time, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of violence. The world can be merciless and it’s how we deal with the ugly in our lives that intreagues me.
I’ll give an ebook copy of The Valjevo Encounter to a randomly selected commenter.
I’ll also give a copy to the first commenter who can tell me Abe’s mother’s occupation in the Rough Boys trilogy.
When you comment, please leave your email address and let me know which ebook format you’d prefer. If you don’t want to post your address, that’s fine, but be sure to check back and see if you’ve won—or shoot me an email
When an imposing man dressed in black leather, riding a Harley, and sporting a mysterious eye patch charges into an alley and saves college senior Melvin “Tigger” Jacobsen from a creature with soulless, solid black eyes and glistening fangs, sparks begin to fly. Too bad they may not live long enough to explore their irresistible attraction.
Guy Salluci is a vampire hunter who works for a highly covert organization called EERIE. He is Mel’s dream man come-to-life. His bulging muscles and stern countenance are a sharp contrast to the gentle care he gives the injured Mel.
Until now Mel’s biggest challenge was finding a studly boyfriend who will put up with his terminal geekiness. When he finds himself on the run from the vampire, Valjevo, who has targeted him for his next meal, Guy puts him into protective custody at his hidden Mercer Island residence. Mel finds himself falling head-over-heels for the enigmatic vampire hunter—a man torn between his ravenous desires and the horrors of his twisted past. But is Guy even capable of returning Mel’s affection?
When Valjevo hunts Mel down, intent on torture, mayhem, and satisfying his vampire lust, Mel’s only hope is to be rescued by Guy. But the vampire hunter turns out to be not entirely human and unexpectedly vulnerable.
Publisher’s note: Contains scenes of graphic violence, male/male sex, brief non-con, and mild BDSM.
Excerpt from The Valjevo Encounter
Streetlights and neon signs glowed brightly, chasing away the darkness as if trying to refute the after-midnight hour. People spilled out bar doorways and milled up and down the street, laughing and boisterous.
Melvin “Tigger” Jacobsen wove back and forth on the sidewalk, trying to avoid running into other Friday night revelers. It was a long walk home from Pioneer Square—two or three miles, he guessed. He hoped the walk would sober him up some.
A stiff breeze blew off of Elliot Bay, making the air smell briny. It had been a warm day, but even in June, Seattle nights were chilly. Tigger shivered and crossed his bare arms, almost immediately uncrossing them so he could use them for balance.
Getting drunk had seemed like a good idea a few hours earlier. Now he wondered what he’d been thinking.
I’m over Harold—I’ve been over Harold for a long time. So why am I such a drunken slob tonight?
Harold was his high school crush and the only boyfriend he’d ever had. They had gotten together during their freshman year of college, but the long-distance relationship had only lasted a few months. He had been heartbroken when Harold had left him for the girl who was tutoring him in math. That was more than two years ago. Harold was still dating Becky and Tigger was finally over his hurt and anger.
Tigger was brought out of his musings by a horn blaring. Suddenly his booze-soaked brain remembered that he’d left Jon behind at the bar. He had spent some time looking for his friend, but had finally left without him to escape the unwanted attention of another drunk patron.
He will just have to get by without me for the rest of the evening. He paused on a street corner and pulled out his phone. Struggling to focus, he didn’t even try to compose a text message. Instead he pulled up his favorites list and, after a few moments of squinting to make the letters quit dancing, he managed to press the button for Jon. He started walking again as he listened to it ring. When it went to voicemail, he hung up. He’d try again in a little while.
The crowds thinned as Tigger left the Pioneer Square area and soon the Seattle streets seemed deserted. Shadows loomed, darkening alleyways and shop entrances, making it difficult to discern depth and detail. Tigger stumbled over a crack in the sidewalk, barely catching himself before he went down.
How many drinks did I have?
He’d been drinking something pink and sweet that had come adorned with a little, bright plastic jungle animal hanging off of the rim. He still had a green tiger and a neon orange monkey in his pocket.
Drowning your loneliness in alcohol is never a good idea, no matter how cute the drinks, his inner voice scolded him.
Ignoring the voice, because it really wasn’t helping any, his mind went back to the question he’d been obsessing over for the past year: Why can’t I find a boyfriend?
Maybe because no one wants a skinny virgin, the cynical voice in his head suggested.
Tigger was shy, but there were plenty of guys who liked to flirt with him. He even dated sometimes, but nothing ever lasted beyond a third date. It’s me. I’m too picky, he thought.
Something was always missing. Finding a guy who made his dick hard was not a problem—actually it was usually too much of a problem. But finding someone who made his heart flutter? That rarely happened. When it did, the guy was never interested in anything more than a quick fuck. Tigger refused to settle for that—not for his first time. He and Harold had fooled around plenty, but they had never “gone all the way.”
Am I the only guy in the world who wants a relationship, or am I just attracted to the wrong kind of guys? He’d asked himself those questions before, too, and had decided that the answer to both was yes. Most guys his age did not want to be tied down, and the type of guy he was attracted to—big, muscular, dominant, and imposing—that type of guy, in particular, was not interested in a relationship.
Tigger turned a corner and started the long walk up a steep hill, away from the waterfront. A few minutes later, his stomach rebelled. When he realized he was going to lose his dinner to the street, he dodged into the nearest alley. Shadows deepened as he made his way past the first dumpster on unsteady feet. The scent of rotting vegetation and decaying flesh assailed his senses, making the need to expel the contents of his stomach urgent. He put his hands against the nearest brick wall, leaned over, and emptied his guts onto the cobblestones.
Why, oh why, did I drink so much? He felt like the worst kind of low-life, dead drunk and barfing his guts out in an alley.
When his stomach settled, his head felt clearer. He spat repeatedly, wishing he had some water. Finally he gathered himself together and headed back toward the street. That’s when he heard quick footsteps behind him. He spun around and was hit with a wave of vertigo. Stumbling backwards, he wind-milled his arms to keep from going down.
He didn’t fall. Instead, frigid hands grabbed him as if he weighed nothing and flung him against the wall of the building behind him. His head slammed into the brick and his world dimmed for a moment.
A tall figure dressed all in black crowded him, boxing him in. He looked up, struggling to focus through the blinding pain. He found himself staring into a pair of eyes that were bottomless pits of utter darkness. There were no irises, only blackness.
This can’t be real. No one has eyes like that!
His chest tightened as terror gripped him, spreading through his body in a flash, tensing every muscle down to his toes. He felt like he had turned to stone, except his heart was slamming painfully into his rib cage, no doubt trying to get out so it could flee.
The angular face, so close to his, was unnaturally pale, framed with straight, black, shoulder-length hair. A sharp, acrid smell permeated the air. He felt his eyes widen in a completely useless defense mechanism.
Instinctively he put his hands up to push the apparition away. I must be hallucinating. I wonder if someone slipped a roofie into my drink.
The creature—he couldn’t possibly be a man—grabbed his wrists with icy hands and yanked them over his head, forcing them against the rough wall. He heard himself whimper softly. The being’s hands were so cold they caused a chill to spread from his arms into his core. His body began to shake uncontrollably.
The apparition’s thin lips curled into a cruel smile as the unfathomable eyes shifted downward. Tigger could feel his gaze travel slowly down his body as surely as if the creature had been caressing him with his eyes, undressing him. The hairs on the back of his neck and his arms stood on end, giving him the sensation of tiny bugs crawling over his skin.
This can’t be happening.
He then heard a snick and saw a switchblade his attacker’s hand, the bright steel reflecting the distant street light.
Oh, god, this is it! He’s going to kill me now.
He felt the cool blade against his cheek and he had to clamp down hard to stop himself from wetting his pants. Some distant part of his mind told him that it didn’t matter—he wouldn’t be embarrassed after he was dead.
“Such a pretty face.” The man’s voice sounded like rustling leaves. He had an accent that Tigger had never heard. He slid the blade down the side of Tigger’s face, not cutting him, he was pretty sure; there was no pain. The knife slithered slowly down to his throat, to rest against his jugular.
“It would be so easy,” the creature rasped, sliding the blade lightly across Tigger’s neck. Tigger was so frozen with terror he hadn’t taken a full breath for what seemed like minutes. Now he hoped he would pass out from lack of oxygen and save himself from having to witness his own death.
“But I have other plans for you … yes,” the fiend rasped. “No easy death for you, my friend.”
Tigger whimpered again and it sounded pitiful, even to himself.
“Let’s see what that tiny body looks like.” The knife was suddenly no longer at his throat. Tigger took in a huge gasp of air and let it out in another whimper as the creature sliced the front of Tigger’s jeans and briefs wide open in a quick, long swipe that continued down one pant leg to his knee. Tigger felt the cool night air rush over his genitals.
“Well, look at that,” the creature said. Moving the cold blade under Tigger’s balls, he used the flat of it to lift them up and bounce them gently a few times.
A fresh wave of terror exploded within Tigger and the world began to fade out around him. All his muscles, which had been fully tense, suddenly went limp. He would have fallen if the creature hadn’t still had his hands pinned against the wall over his head. He heard himself moan softly as he sagged. Unfortunately he didn’t actually pass out and his head started to clear immediately. He wanted to close his eyes and pray, but some fierce part deep inside of him insisted that he pay attention so he wouldn’t miss a chance to escape.
There won’t be an escape, his cynical mental voice told him. There is no way you can get away from a demon. He wasn’t sure what the creature was, but Tigger was positive he wasn’t a flesh-and-blood man.
The demon had finished playing with his balls and moved the knife back to the top of his chest. Catching the edge of his tight T-shirt with the blade, he sliced slowly downward, the fabric falling open as he went. Tigger felt the sting of the knife biting into his bare skin. Looking down, he watched in horror as the monster sliced a shallow gash from his collarbone to his navel. Blood began to bead up in it.
The sight of the blood caused something inside Tigger to shriek with terror. He opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He felt as if he were in a nightmare where he couldn’t scream or run. This can’t be real. Demons aren’t real. I must be dreaming. But the cut on his chest began to burn with an intensity that belied illusion. It felt all too real.
The creature’s nostrils flared and his bottomless eyes began to glow with a faint amber light. He leaned over, stuck out a thin tongue, and licked the blood off Tigger’s chest in a long, slow swipe, letting out a low noise as if he was savoring something delicious.
Tigger shuddered with horror at the demon’s touch. The monster’s tongue was as frigid as his hands, and the noise that he made shattered something deep inside Tigger—possibly his sanity. The scream that had been trapped within Tigger came out then, long and loud.
The creature began to laugh, a cruel, chilling sound. But what plundered the last vestiges of Tigger’s wit was the glimpse of the fangs he saw in the demon’s mouth. His canines were long and sharp, and they glinted even in the meager light.
Vampire! His brain identified the creature, but his reason had already fled and he couldn’t process what that meant.
Something in the vampire’s face changed in that instant. He dropped Tigger’s hands and spun around. At the same time, Tigger heard a low whistling sound that ended in a quiet thwack. The vampire’s tall, thin body went rigid, and a heartbeat later all of the tension evaporated from it as he collapsed, falling to the ground as if he were suddenly boneless.
Tigger found himself sitting on the cobblestones, his back to the wall, his knees pulled up to his chest, and his arms wrapped defensively around them. He didn’t remember his legs giving out on him. He was shivering violently.
The sense of relief that enveloped him like a warm river was arrested in mid-flow as a huge shadow materialized out of the darkness, moving toward him at a rate that was too fast to be humanly possible.
Jay Vaughn lives in sunny Seattle, a clean, progressive city that is way too expensive for a writer’s income. Therefore, Jay holds down a full-time, computer-industry day job, but writing is her passion. It’s a hobby-gone-wild, so much so that her teenage kids accuse her of being an addict.
Jay carries her laptop everywhere and can often be seen combining other favorite activities with writing. For example, you can find Jay sitting at a small table in the back of the gay bar around the corner from her house, drinking wine and writing. Or waking up early while camping, dragging out the laptop, and writing. Or writing in the truck on the way to and from concerts, ski-trips, visits to relatives ... wherever.
Jay’s favorite genres are sci-fi, fantasy, and M/M erotic romance. She discovered M/M quite by accident when she was writing a traditional fantasy novel, and one of her characters ended up in an all-male prison for a bit too long. Whoops!
Find out what Jay is working on next at http://www.authorjvaughn.com or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’d love to hear from you.
Divergent Publishing: http://www.divergentpublishing.com/?product=the-valjevo-encounter