I thought I’d talk about villains today. In particular, the villains in Tip of the Spear. Bad guys can be really fun to write. The stereotypical bully is fun to hate, but pretty one dimensional—he’s bad, you hate him.
I wanted someone with more to him/her. In Tip of the Spear, there are several bad guys, each with depth. There’s Aaron Bartel, the reason Thais (Tay-iss)—the heroine—has left the Amazon in the first place. He killed her tribe and stole the queen’s crown. But Aaron is a bit of a mystery. He’s the catalyst for the plot, but he’s not for Thais to find. Not yet.
Then there’s Pillar. A fellow Amazon warrior who turned on her tribe. Why? What were her motivations? At first I thought she’d be that witchy woman jealous of others. But sadness and loss have stirred her actions. I found myself identifying with her at points, which is pretty odd for me. She’s seeking happiness and redemption all the while knowing she doesn’t deserve it. But will Thais find her, or will she find Thais and put an end to the Amazon’s quest before it can truly begin?
And then there are the McKenzies. Butch and Gregor, brothers trying to make a nice place for themselves in a land that takes no prisoners. Butch is brutal, cold, and intelligent. He thinks before he acts, and he has a thing for pain. Gregor, the younger brother, takes what he wants when he wants it. Rape, murder, theft, all in day’s work. I loved hating Gregor while admiring—to a point—Butch. Both men are a product of the parents who raised them. Butch, brought up by his domineering, strong-willed mother. And Gregor, raised by a cruel father who treats women no better than chattel. It’s these men who challenge Thais to find her courage when up against such ruthless, senseless violence.
Tip of the Spear has a lot of challenges for an Amazon out of her element. To an extent, even the land is Thais’s enemy. It’s not the lush forest she remembers, but a land full of creatures and men changed by the sky rocks. Blood trees reach for the coppery red stuff with seeking tree limbs and leaves. Carnivorous horses, called vores, eat meat—alive or dead—and have an intelligence on par with mankind. And there are men in the Territories that can do things normal folks can’t. Men like the hero, Hinto, who if found out, could face death at the hands of the lawmakers who hate anything unnatural.
And those are just a few of the treats Thais and Hinto face while roaming through the Territories hunting for the crown.
Here’s a short blurb and an excerpt. One random commenter will be chosen to received a kindle-format copy of Tip of the Spear! Enjoy! Contest open until 10-31-12 @ 11:59pm EST. Open internationally!
Thais (Tay-iss) lost her mother, her queen, and most of her tribe at the hands of brutal foreigners, all while she enjoyed a respite from duty. But the young Amazon with vengeance in her heart refuses to lose anything else. She’ll bring back the queen’s stolen crown or die trying. Life in the Territories has its perils: the Nature Laws, carnivorous beasts, and treacherous men who survived the Time of Dying. One man in particular, a warrior in his own right, has an odd effect on her senses. She comes to desire him, to trust him, and she doesn’t like it. Men are good for war and breeding, neither of which Thais has time for, not when she’s so close to finding those responsible for the crown’s theft. In the course of her quest, Thais finds much more than atonement for her troubled past, but a pure and lasting love, if only she has the courage to accept it.
Thais studied the painted woman before her with unease. Kitty wore her sexuality like a moth-eaten cloak. Such age and pain could not be covered by the cloying paints these whores used. In the four years she and her sisters had spent acclimating to the Territories, Thais had come across some strange things. But this driving need men, and apparently women, had for sex baffled her.
“So you want to know if I’ve seen who?” Kitty paused to take a puff of a smoke that smelled of clove and another substance Thais couldn’t identify.
Yara would know what it is. Thais missed her friends dearly. They’d parted two months ago, and in the time since, Thais felt more alone than she’d ever been. Or at least she had, before she’d run into that male, a warrior with light blue eyes.
When Kitty raised her hand in front of Thais’s face, Thais coughed through the smoke and apologized. “I’m sorry, Kitty. I’m not used to such libation,” she said haltingly, not sure if she used the right word. It had taken her two years to conquer the Territory language, and she still misused words when she took the time to speak them.
“My clove cigarettes?” Kitty laughed. “Honey, that’s not libation. That’s good clean medicine. The clove helps me to swallow. Numbs my throat.” She winked, as if sharing a joke. Thais had no idea what she was talking about. “The filler is homegrown leaf. The damned UTO outlawed tobacco ages ago. One of our last great vices.” She sighed. “It was organic, but toxic. Well, shee-it. Who the hell wants to live forever, anyway?”
Not sure what to say, Thais tried to regroup. “I am looking for a man.”
“Ain’t we all,” Kitty muttered and took a long drag.
“This one goes by the name Aaron Bartel. He’s very rich. His chest is broad, and he stands this high.” She held a hand slightly above her own head. “He also has dirty yellow hair and dead eyes. He’s a leader of men like him.” Murderers and rapists and thieves.
“Hmm, Bartel, you say?” Kitty puffed away on her cigarette. “Why are you looking for him?”
The sharp look on the woman’s face urged caution.
“I think he may be traveling with a few women I know. The warrior—ah, women would be like me. Tall and strong, maybe with darker skin than many of you here, from time spent in the sun.”
“I’d bet they talk funny, too, eh? Like you. One of ‘em have a purple flower with a yellow dot inked on her cheek, just under her eye?”
Pilar. Thais’s heart pounded. The traitorous Amazon would lead her to Bartel. She knew it.
Kitty smashed her cigarette on a ceramic plate. She blew out a residual puff of clover scented smoke, and Thais fought the urge to gag. “What’s it worth to you?”
“What do you need?”
Her quick answer took Kitty by surprise. “Hmm, what do I need?” She eyed Thais up and down. “Take off that hat and lose the bandana.”
Thais grudgingly did so.
“Holy shit, honey, you’re a beauty. Now take off that vest and open a few buttons.”
Thais had a bad feeling Kitty would demand of her something she refused to give. She slowly took off her vest and unfastened a few buttons.
“You binding ‘em?” Kitty nodded at her chest.
“Thought so. You have a build that screams sex, you know.”
“No, I do not.” Not sex. Never that.
Not sure if it was her tone or her stillness, Thais watched as compassion replaced the speculation on Kitty’s face. “Oh, okay, hon. You can’t gimme another girl to use. I get it. What about currency?”
Thais buttoned up her shirt and donned the vest again. The thin barrier of clothing made her feel safe. As if cotton and leather would protect her from the evils of men.
“I have some gold, but I think it will not be enough. Is there some service I might perform instead?” Realizing how Kitty might interpret that, she hastily amended, “Some man who has wronged you? Someone you wish dead?”
Kitty stared in surprise. “You a merc?”
“A merc,” she tested the word. Chow Yen had taught them much when they’d reached the Territories, but apparently the little man hadn’t taught them enough. She learned something new every day.
“A mercenary. You a killer for hire?”
“No, but to learn of Bartel, I would right a wrong done you.” To balance the scales of justice. The Goddess encouraged right. Death was a natural part of balance, an accepted occurrence in Thais’s scattered world.
“Right a wrong, hmm? You know, honey, I think you and me just might have a deal.”
Not only did they have a deal, but Kitty added in a room and a meal for Thais’s promised service. Considering what Kitty wanted done, Thais would have done the job for free. But she needed information about Bartel.
As Thais settled in for a night’s sleep, she tried to tune out the moans and groans around her. The rooms in this building had thin walls. Conversations droned like the buzzing of bees, low and insistent despite her closed door. The constant banging of something against her wall and the accompanying moaning of both a man and a woman made her think, surprisingly, of the tall stranger she’d encountered twice today.
He’d led her here to Kitty House with the expectation that she’d service him the way the women here pleasured their customers. Despite what had happened to her village four years ago, Thais didn’t hate men. Chow Yen had seen to that. She didn’t necessarily like them, nor did she anticipate ever mating with one of them. Though from what she’d heard, sexual intercourse wasn’t always painful, and most men seemed to derive pleasure from it.
To hear Kitty tell it, nothing satisfied like a good ride from the right man, whatever that meant. Though well-intentioned, Kitty’s offer to help Thais get over her discomfort with sex—and she still didn’t know how she’d been so transparent—bothered the hell out of her. Thais couldn’t imagine spreading her legs for a man, surrendering to his control. Still, today when the warrior had asked her to thank him, she’d felt a stirring of… something. Unfamiliar yet exciting. Her heart raced, her breath grew shorter, and her face heated. Nerves, not anxiety. A kind of interest, she supposed.
And why not? Even Mother consented to lying with a male once. Besides, he’s the first decent looking warrior you’ve seen out here in the land the Goddess forgot.
Taller than Thais and strong of form, he’d impressed her at first with his stillness and steady reserve. As he’d drawn closer on his vore, she’d sworn she sensed an answering wildness in not just the beast he rode, but in the man as well. Shoulder length black hair so dark it shone blue under the sunlight had captivated her, but his eyes had held her attention like nothing could. An exact match to the crystalline blue waters in the Goddess Cave, those orbs possessed unfathomable depths.
His voice, when he spoke, sounded rich. Like the rumble of a jaguar, yet clear of intent and strong. Unlike most of the filthy men in the Territories, he smelled of sweat and power. The burning energy in his gaze discomfited her, the way the guardians at home could unnerve the enemy with just a look.
He handled a rifle with ease and sat atop a vore as if he’d been born in the saddle, as she’d heard many a man comment about natural-born riders. Thais herself didn’t care for horseback. Riding a vore, on the other hand, appealed to her, maybe because vores were rumored to be nearly as intelligent as people, or because they could never be fully tamed. Oddly enough, the vore and the man reminded her of home. And she began to dream…
Tip of the Spear, available at Amazon
Thanks for having me!