Welcome Elliot Cooper's return to the clubhouse! He's sharing a bit about horror and romance. also, sharing an excerpt from his romance betwixt a necromancer and a zombie in "My Boyfriend's Back". (We reviewed the title here!) Want more? There's a discount code for preorders. Still not satisfied? Okay there is a GIVEAWAY too! Take it away Elliot!
by Elliot Cooper
Growing up, I had a love of (often quite campy) horror films like The Fly, Ticks, Hellraiser, Scream, Idle Hands, and Cat's Eye. One thing I usually found missing, though, was a romantic happy ending. This wasn't as true in the YA fiction I read in middle school--I glutted myself on Christopher Pike, RL Stine, LJ Smith, and Richie Tankersley Cusick. Those books were more likely to have a happy ending of sorts, despite the horrific events between their covers.
One movie in particular, Scream, had an ending that irritated the crap out of me. It was a novel ending for its time--the teen heroine saved the day instead of dying a horrific death--but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. There'd been a strong romantic thread through the film between Sid and Billy and to have it severed just because he was a homicidal psycho...?
Wouldn't it have been a lot more twisted and interesting if Sid, so completely traumatized by her boyfriend and his best friend being serial killers, flipped because of her love for Billy? What if she took out the friend (who was the real piece of trash) to show Billy just how much she loved him and wanted to be part of his (sick) world? Then they could go off on a horror-themed Bonnie and Clyde misadventure, covered in the blood of their victims.
Okay, so maybe I watched too much Batman the Animated Series's Harley Quinn and Joker as a kid.
Looking back at my fantasy fan-ending as an adult, it's easy to see how problematic and groan worthy it is. It'd make a decent horror flick (if the murderous love birds got their just desserts), but it wouldn't be a real romance. Or, not a healthy one in the least.
I'm still in love with the concept of a horror romance genre mash up, which My Boyfriend's Back slides into. Some may find it fits better in paranormal territory, but it definitely has its roots (as I do!) in romanticized horror.
While My Boyfriend's Back was initially inspired by the old song title and the concept of a necromancer and a zombie being in love, I had to figure out an important issue: how do I write a murderer--a cannibal, no less--who deserves a happy ending?
There's a bit of a precedent in pop culture, lucky for me. Hannibal Lecter springs to mind as the quintessential fan favorite homicidal cannibal. Then there are the various zombie themed romances with zombie protagonists that have sprung up here and there--though they're not as prominent as the staple humans surviving the zombie apocalypse tales. Warm Bodies is probably the most well known of these.
But R in Warm Bodies and Hannibal have been given very different approaches by their writers to make them sympathetic. Hannibal is a genius oozing with creepy charisma. He has character depth in spades, but at the end of the day he's a monster in human skin. R, on the other hand, is a victim of his affliction. He's not a cannibal by choice, but by circumstance. As a complete counter to Hannibal, R is a human in monster skin.
Those characters represent two ways to go about creating a monster readers will root for, but they're not the only route. There's always the anti-hero: the master of that gray area between good and evil. With Dax, I chose to go the middle road, combining elements of both extremes to create a character who straddles the line between human and monster. At first, he's more like R--he's a slave to his zombie nature. But as he regains his humanity, his sentience, over the course of the story, he changes even while those baser instincts don't.
As a writer, one of my goals is to write the stories that I want to see in the world. For My Boyfriend's Back, that meant taking my favorite romantic horror tropes and twisting them together in a way that would allow for a positive ending for the main characters. A happy, loving ending. Even if a necromancer and a zombie might not be the typical heroes in any story, I hope readers will root for these two in theirs.
After losing both of his parents, Academy of Magecraft student Steven Durant doesn't want to see anyone else lose a loved one before their time. Traditional resurrection methods, however, only create mindless, flesh-hungry zombies; they're no cure for death. He's certain his unique brand of necromancy—using alchemy and blood magic—is the only answer.
When his boyfriend, Dax Everhart, has a fatal accident, Steven sees no choice but to use his experimental Lazarus Elixir. Dax comes back wrong, but the more humans he consumes, the more human he becomes.
With the help of his best friends, his ghostly aunt, and her living doll homunculus, Steven fights to regain normalcy and repair his shattered relationship with Dax. But with Dax openly embracing his monstrous nature, Steven shoulders the guilt of assisting in a murder spree that could lead the mundane and magical police right to their door.
Title: My Boyfriend’s Back
Author: Elliot Cooper
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: October 10, 2016
Sex Content: Explicit
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
NineStar Press: http://ninestarpress.com/product/my-boyfriends-back/
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-myboyfriendsback-2140831-145.html
COUPON CODE: Get 20% off preorder on NineStar Press website with coupon code “preorder”
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Elliot Cooper is a creativity addict who enjoys writing stories that embody adventure, a hint of the taboo, and shadows that are deeper than they appear at first glance. He also enjoys video games and knitting, and lives in the southern US with his human and feline family.
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/elliotwrites
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Visit my website: http://www.elliotcooperwrites.com
Elliot Cooper © 2016
All Rights Reserved.
Catrina skipped through the garden, her bangs fluttering below the neat braid pinned across the top of her head. Her hair was darker than the rest of her unearthly blue-green form, the yard partially visible through her translucent skin and clothes. She flopped down on the ground in a way that made her appear to have mass and then poked at the fetid opossum corpse until she managed to flip it to its belly.
“Told you so,” she said matter-of-factly. “You didn’t use enough.”
Steven ignored her and kept digging. She didn’t have any idea what she was talking about. Catrina had admitted to him multiple times that she’d never dabbled in necromancy in life; she’d been too young to get much further than simple charms and potions. Back in her day, they hadn’t even had the local campus of the Academy of Magecraft, which meant she’d been homeschooled by his great-great-grandmother.
“Did you run it over yourself?”
Steven huffed in annoyance and jammed his shovel into the earth. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with one gloved hand and glared at the little ghost.
“No. I found it. I’m a necromancer, not a murderer.” He looked down into the hole he’d made, judged it to be deep enough for the poor animal, and then gently lowered the opossum body into the ground.
The potion hadn’t been potent enough, which wasn’t entirely his fault. Several of the ingredients were out of season and expensive. His little herb garden was already done for the year with the cooler fall weather turning the trees in his yard gold and umber. Steven didn’t like to waste any of his potion supplies and didn’t think it was a fault to be conservative with his elixirs.
Only maybe he’d been overly cautious. Maybe he needed to take a cue from his boyfriend, Dax, and get overzealous with his potion making and application rituals.
Steven’s mouth screwed into a sour frown at the thought as he shoveled the pile of dirt back into the hole.
“Is it really smelly?” Catrina peered up at Steven from her seat on the grass. She plucked at the hem of her dress and pulled it down over her knees.
“It’s not too bad.” Steven shrugged one shoulder as he tamped down the loose dirt with the flat side of the shovel.
“I can’t even smell it now.”
“So that’s your ‘I just thought of something that offends my Stevie senses’ face.” Catrina pursed her lips at him and then skipped off toward the house.
“Don’t call me that!” Steven called after her. Catrina was the only one who called him that, and she’d done so since he was little enough to want to play games with her. But he’d outgrown the nickname a long time ago. It was a child’s name, not the name of a future world-renowned mage.
He heard Dax’s car pull into the driveway as he put the shovel and gloves back in the shed with the rest of his gardening equipment. At least Dax wouldn’t get all holier than thou about his failed attempt to raise roadkill from the dead. Again.
“Hey, babe!” Dax called to Steven as he walked around to the front of the house. “You wanna help me with these groceries? I got you a little something special.” He waggled his dark brows and grinned but then noticed his jovial expression wasn’t catching. “Everything all right?”
“Opossum number three was not, in fact, the charm,” Steven said with a shake of his head. He let out a sigh and sidestepped Dax to reach into the car for the bags.
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