I’d like to welcome Libby Doyle, author of the Covalent Series, to the blog today to answer the Big Question. Without further ado…here’s Libby!
Readers often ask me how I come up with my ideas. I tell them it is a mysterious alchemy. The way the light bounces off a skyscraper when I’m on my way to work in the morning makes me think how the sight would emotionally affect my characters. The sight of an impossibly beautiful couple makes me imagine their love story, or perhaps its tragic end.
Literary-minded friends often ask why I write urban fantasy. I think they’d rather I applied my talents to writing about something weighty and high-minded. I scowl at them half-seriously and say, “Don’t you like to be entertained?”
I love escapism. I want my books to entertain. Life is hard and often boring, so I’ve written a few ripsnorters. I want to take people for a ride, light up their imaginations. In the Covalent Series, I’ve created a race of ancient beings who use their great power to keep the elemental forces of Creation and Destruction in Balance. In my fictional world, were it not for these aliens, the elemental forces would expand and transform into each other in an endless cycle. Everything would be destroyed. The Covalent bring stability to the cosmos. They sit at the still center of everything that exists.
So, imagine an immortal Covalent warrior, exiled to Earth because of the sins of his father, Lucifer, who rebelled against the rulers of their realm. Now, imagine this warrior meets an extraordinary human, an FBI agent, strong, smart and fearless, and falls madly in love with her. Not a real life situation, to put it mildly, but their passion teases out interactions that are all too human. Can love succeed when the lovers are not only from different cultures, but different dimensions? Does Barakiel, my heroic warrior, have the right to place the woman he loves in danger, which he does simply by loving her? He has enemies, you see.
The science fiction/fantasy aspect of my stories is meant to be cool and fun. I have no pretense beyond that. But within that framework, my stories do what stories have always done. They draw you into the minds and emotions of characters and communicate something real by virtue of it.
This puts me in mind of one of my favorite short stories, The Keys to December by Roger Zelazny. The story opens like this:
BORN OF MAN and woman, in accordance with Catform Y7 requirements, Coldworld Class (modified per Alyonal), 3.2-E, G.M.I. option, Jarry Dark was not suited for existence anywhere in the universe which had guaranteed him a niche. This was either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you looked at it.
This is a tale about the Catforms, humans genetically modified to suit an icy planet whose sun went supernova, leaving them without a home. They pooled their money to buy another planet. They covered it with giant machines to tailor the environment to their needs.
The Catforms spent centuries in suspended animation while the machines did their work. Teams of Catforms would wake to maintain the equipment. This included Jarry and Sanza, the love of his life.
During one maintenance period, Jarry and Sanza noticed the little bipeds who inhabited the planet. These creatures were primitive at first, but Jarry and Sanza saw they were evolving, increased their tool use to cope with their changing environment, helping each other. Jarry and Sanza also learned that these little bipeds created images of the Catforms and left offerings to them. Sanza asked if they would survive the changes to the planet. Jarry said he didn’t think so, that the change was happening too quickly.
SPOILER ALERT. During one period of wakefulness, a mammoth predator attacked Jarry and Sanza. The little bipeds fought furiously to help them. Many were killed, but they didn’t succeed. Sanza died, and Jarry was left desolate. He found some comfort in the little bipeds, who treated him as a god. He didn’t want the transformation of the environment to render them extinct. He argued to the other Catforms that they had a responsibility to the bipeds. The other Catforms said, it’s a shame, but the real responsibility they had was to each other. They would not slow down the transformation of the planet.
Jarry went rogue and tried to destroy some of the machines. The Catforms took away his privileges and told him to go back to sleep, but he chose not to sleep. He chose to live out the rest of his days with the little bipeds, still mourning for his lost Sanza.
A melancholy story. I get emotional thinking about it. Zelazny is a master, and in this story he did something to which I aspire. Using an otherworldy framework, he told a real story about grief, ethics and bravery so wonderful that it still grips my heart more than 30 years after I first read it.
The Pain Season is available now at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, & Kobo. Although not a cliffhanger, The Pain Season is not a stand-alone novel. The story begins in The Passion Season and will continue in The Vengeance Season coming in 2017.
About The Pain Season:
ON THE AUTUMNAL EQUINOX, ZAN O’GARA’S LIFE WILL CHANGE.
Tonight’s the night. Rainer Barakiel is going to tell me all his secrets. I thought I’d be excited, but I feel like someone shoved a knife into my gut.
Heh. Fitting, considering I met Rainer because of his expertise in edged weapons. The daggers used in that ritual sacrifice became our best lead thanks to him. What kind of omen is it, that I met the love of my life because someone found a human spleen in the bushes?
I didn’t expect someone like him. When he opened his door I couldn’t talk, I was so stunned. God, how I flirted with him. Hell of a way for an FBI agent to act. This whole relationship is a hell of a way for an FBI agent to act. I didn’t want to face that he was hiding things from me.
What if he has something to do with this murder?
I’m being paranoid. He’s denied being a criminal and I believe him. I don’t see how my instincts could be so wrong. He can’t be bad. He can’t.
He’s hiding things from me, but he loves me. I feel it. Maybe he didn’t expect to fall in love with me, but he did, and now he wants out. He’s going to confess, leave it all behind. For me.
I wonder, after he tells me all his secrets, will this become a wacky story we love to tell? Or a story I tell only to myself, alone in a stale-smelling apartment, stewing in pain? The story of how my heart got damaged beyond repair.
WARNING: This book contains foul language, violence, and explicit sex. Adults only, please. Although not a cliffhanger, this is not a stand-alone novel. The story began in The Passion Season, and will continue in The Vengeance Season.
Libby Doyle is an attorney and former journalist who took a walk around the corporate world and didn’t like it. She escapes the mundane by writing extravagant yarns, filled with sex and violence. She loves absurd humor, travel, punk rock, and her husband. You can discover more about Libby’s world on her website.
Attorney by day, writer of extravagant yarns by night. Considering her tales are filled with sex and violence, Libby Doyle thought a pen name would be prudent. She also thinks it’s kind of fun.
Libby grew up on the East Coast of the United States and attended college in the 1980s, immersed in the underground music scene. She met talented people and troubled people. People who taught her what it means to be your own person.
In the 1990s, Libby went back to school to get a master’s degree in journalism. For more than a decade, she worked as a journalist, until her interests led her to law school. She kept her full-time job while attending law school at night, a brutal experience. Though she cursed her stupidity countless times as her body and mind became sick with exhaustion, she’s glad she did it.
She knows she’s lucky. She’s had countless adventures, memories that feed her imagination. Libby has stood atop a hill in Connemara in a cold wind, watching sunlight sparkle off the pristine sea below. She’s crested a trail after a grueling hike to find the glory of the Continental Divide spread before her. She’s been followed by a howler monkey in a Mexican jungle, shared the midday meal with Buddhist monks in Korea, and been pummeled by an opponent in a martial arts test in Japan. She’s trekked for days among the Himalayas, mountains so high and timeless they made her feel completely insignificant, a wonderful feeling.
Libby is married to a man who is funny and kind and patient enough to listen to her chatter on about her characters. She feels like they’re her friends. She’s confident they’ll keep you entertained. Through her fanciful tales, she hopes they speak to you.
Many thanks for such a fun post, Libby! Wasn’t it, readers? Ask her a question because my head is spinning!
I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). (And don’t forget that once a quarter I’ll be tossing in something fun from the Perilously Fun Shop!) Recipient is announced the first blog post of the new month.