Sep 16, 2013

Guest Post: Erin Kellison + Contest

The making of a hero

First, thank you so much to the very awesome Jessica for having me here today to celebrate the release of Soul Kissed, book two in my Shadow Kissed series. I’m giving away a Shadow book (reader’s choice) to a random reader who answers my question at the end.

I’m talking heroes today, and mine are rarely knights in shining armor, aw-shucks-ma’am, can-I-get-the-door-for-you kind of guys. Not that they don’t have manners. They do. It’s just that every single one contends with quite a bit of darkness, and in another life, might just have been a villain.

My Shadow world, though contemporary, is dark and full of magic. The things that go bump in the night are now real. The fairy tales, myths, and legends of old are happening again, just in a modern context.

Mason Stray first appeared in Fire Kissed, book one. He was leaning against a Camaro, and he was holding a shotgun. There was a dead man at his feet. I saw a good-looking tough guy, one who got his hands dirty (though he was friendly about it). I saw my next hero.

When it came time to write Soul Kissed, my take on Cinderella, I knew that Mason would assume the rags to riches story arc. I knew he was “stray,” which means he has no family. He was the product of an illicit affair between his mother and an unknown man. He was raised somewhat in his mom’s House, but as soon as he was able to fend for himself, he was put out. Mason started with nothing and was treated like he was nothing.

Beginning a book is always the most difficult. It goes so slowly because I have to know my characters before I can have them do anything on the page. (Picture me staring at a blank page on a screen.)

So I asked myself questions (always do, all day long): Is he angry about his crappy life? Does he want revenge? Does he have ambition to prove himself?

None of that sounded like my hero.

I had a flash of a vision, Mason as a father, but I rejected it. My books always have plenty of dangerous
situations, and I don’t like putting kids in danger. It makes me crazy and heartsick and tense…which is exactly how Mason was feeling to me.

But the kid thing stuck. Sometimes things just stick in books and I can’t change them no matter how hard I try.

A kid meant that Mason didn’t have time to be angry for himself, or want revenge, or want to prove himself. A single parent in a world growing more frightening by the moment doesn’t have that luxury. Mason’s singular goal had to be his son’s safety.

Here’s an excerpt:

“We run. As fast and as far as we can. We run, or we die.”
Could an eight-year-old understand?
Mason would have carried him again if it would have been safer, but the humans had grown more dispersed, and frankly, Fletcher could run faster than he could. Kid had speed and power in those legs. Mason’s eyes burned as he cursed again. He just hadn’t anticipated Fletcher would have to run for his life so soon.
They got as far as the parking lot access road when black doom torpedoed overhead, poisoned Shadow picking out the mages from the panicked crowd.
They weren’t going to make it to the car.
Mason made a grab for his son, who was still in flight. Fletcher jackknifed in the air—the muscle in Mason’s shoulder shredded—but he brought his son to his chest and went down on his knees on the street.
He’d have prayed, but if there was a God, he’d long ago forsaken the Shadow born.
Mason curled his body around Fletcher. Screams of fear and pain ripped the air so close, Mason groaned. He strove to make a boy-sized hollow out of his chest and belly, kneeling on the pavement and hugging his son, hands splayed over Fletcher’s face and head, his own head bowed to close the man-made cocoon. Within his grasp, Fletcher trembled, his heartbeat fast like a rabbit’s. Mason’s own heart had stalled. His throat had strangled shut with horror. All necessary body function was diverted into willing his son to live, at any cost, including his own life.
Black, smoky arms of terror reached among the throng, brushing by Mason like whispers of vicious gossip. He felt the Shadow singing in his blood as it drew near; ironic that his affinity with magic would help him know when his death was near. The dull thump and burn of a body falling nearby brought bile searing onto his tongue. Another mage down, moaning, then gargling into death.
“To the Webb wards!” Dalton’s voice, far away, rallying the stricken mages.
Yes, House wards would protect the mages who’d come to the May Fair.  House wards were impenetrable magicks of safe harbor. And Webb’s wards were the nearest, not ten miles from the fair site.
But since Mason had no House, no wards to offer in return, that option wasn’t open to him. To his son. Not yet. Though he would have begged if there’d been any chance or service he could have traded.
Stray mages were outsiders, no matter how friendly the handshake. How many times did Mason have to learn that lesson?
Humans whimpered and ran, their passage bumping Mason’s shoulder, riffling his hair, as if they were the ones at risk. Stupid. This was a trap for Shadowed blood.
Inside Mason was frantic too: Not my son. Please, not Fletcher. Pass over. Pass him by.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Today was supposed to have been about peace, an opportunity to make friends.
Someone somewhere was laughing.
Mason ground his teeth against the burning in his eyes. He clutched Fletcher and vowed again, as he had a million times before, he’d do better for his son. Safer. No matter what in blackest Shadow he had to do.

Mason’s son, Fletcher, idolizes his dad, which becomes a bit of a problem in and of itself in the story when Fletcher tries to battle the bad guys too.

So here’s my question: When you were a kid, who was your hero?
Contest will be open from now til Friday at 11:59 PM (CST)

Erin Kellison is the award-winning author of the Shadow series, the Shadow Touch novella series, and the Shadow Kissed series, all of which share the same world, where dark fantasy meets modern fairy tale. RT calls her latest, Soul Kissed, “a dark fairy tale with a twist, perfect for readers who love passion with their fantasy.”
You can find Erin at:


  1. My mother was my hero. We were a military family that moved around a lot. She had to deal with three daughters adjusting to new places, a husband who was always deployed and raising us almost alone. She showed me what a strong woman was and a great mother.

  2. My Mom was my hero too... When my Dad left, she held us (I had 2 sisters) together. She was there for all of us without fail. I miss her terribly... she died a few years ago.

    I love dark fairy tales... Thanks for the contest!

  3. My hero still is Anne Rice. She was the first author I read who's work resonated with me. She is the one that introduced me to an entirely new world of amazing books.

  4. I am lucky to have been blessed with amazing parents. Both heroes in their own way.

  5. My mom.
    Thanks for the chance to win!

    1. My email is natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com


Comments are an award all on their own! So my blog is an award free one! Thanks for any consideration though!