Character Profile: Baal/WINDBOUND

I’m currently revising an old manuscript–a YA urban fantasy with an Indian mythological backdrop, but today a song came on the radio that brought Baal back into my mind. He was a latecomer to my WINDBOUND novel (formerly Winds of Nox), and yet his presence became been so essential in forming that book.

In Hebrew texts, Baal was a god worshipped in certain Middle Eastern communities, designated as god of fertility or sometimes as “Lord of the Earth.” I liked the power behind the name, and it felt appropriate for a mystical sandman character.

On the other hand, Baal is also a slave (the only slave in the story) and the only main character I deliberately described as white. I couldn’t put a person of color in chains. I just couldn’t do that. The slave element was essential because the whole story is about the complexities and abuses of power dynamics. Men and women. Leaders and followers. Indentured servanthood. Slavery.

For Baal, the focus is very much on how the power dynamic (slavery) has been silencing. One of my favorite things about his character is how mixed reader reviews are on him. One editor made my day by telling me she had a secret crush on him. Some of my betas also think he’s an enigma. And that’s really okay. Slavery is silencing. And once you have been silenced, people are less likely to know/understand you. Then, even if you are free, psychologically it is hard to get past that silencing. Even generations down the road, marginalized/enslaved people groups still struggle to name their traumas. Fear of retribution is always there, haunting.

So for the Baal’s out there who feel like they should speak but don’t–I get it. Sometimes people say that you should put yourself out there, to be known, so people understand what your issue is. So they can connect. But you don’t have to do that. You aren’t obligated to fill anybody in on your traumas. You don’t have to be a platform for someone else’s cause.

All I want is for you to find peace in a violent world.

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Mood music for WINDBOUND

These songs were inspirations for certain scenes and characters in my current WIP, Windbound. I ordered them sequentially based on the scene or character the song brings into my mind. Enjoy!

So close (feat. Arnor Dan) – Olafur Arnalds

Oceano – Roberto Cacciapaglia

Embers – Helen Jane Long

Nuvole di luce – Roberto Cacciapaglia

Praying – Kesha

Silence – Marshmello (feat. Khalid)

Halloween: Why no dragons? + Giveaway winner announced!

To view the Vivid/ Slither giveaway winner, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the Rafflecopter link.

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Why does nobody want to be a dragon for Halloween? We celebrate vampires, pirates, fairies, ghosts. Cats and pumpkins get a special place in our decor and hearts. But dragons? Nope. Of all the mythological creatures that get to come out and play during the epic candy-fest day of year, dragons are the ones who do not get to look forward to the Halloween festivities.

Really, I do not understand why this is the case. Dragons are cool. They have those beautiful scales. Those sharp teeth and claws. The long, dangerous tail. They are much scarier than mermaids, and there are definitely always a few mermaids out around Halloween. My daughter was a mermaid a few years ago. She had the scales, the tail. But alas, no fire breathing snout. No jaggedy teeth or razor sharp claws. Just a plain, old, ordinary mermaid.

The thing is, I think all the other mythic beasts are scared–that’s why they discriminate against dragons. If there was a dragon at your Halloween party, it most certainly might eat all your ghosts and vampires and witches and ghoulies. It would also probably eat all your candied apples and other assorted treats. You aren’t really allowed to make a dragon mad. It so easily could reign fire down on you and your household.

Dragons also make all the other beasties look like kittens in comparison. I mean, take the classic everyday vampire. Can’t come out during the day. Has particular food preferences. Dragons would for sure eliminate that picky vampire in one easy chomp. A witch? How much brewing would a witch have to do to make a potion suitable to stop an angry dragon? Answer: a LOT of brewing. By then–chomp. Witchsticks. Ghosts might be a bit more of a challenge, but I am not sure even a ghost could handle the heat of a thousand fiery hells. It might just prefer the regular hell. Same with demons and The Devil. Same with all the slasher/serial killers. Fairies and pirates and princesses? PUL-EEZE. Chomp. Skeletons and zombies? Dragons wouldn’t even bother chomping there. It would just be smoosh as their huge claw comes down, their eyes barely even registering a flurry of motion down at the floor.

Given how chompy and fiery and smooshy dragons are, I guess I can see why the organizers of Halloween would be reticent to include dragons in all the fun. I mean, who wants to clean their house, put up all those spiderwebs, set up a bunch of traps, and lay out all the eyeball food, the witchy potions, the bug-infested fruit, etc., only to have a dragon accidentally stomp or burn down your house? Even if the dragon was verrrrrrryy careful, he/she would probably still cause a lot of accidental damage getting groovy to Monster Dance. And trick or treating? Dragons would not be satisfied with your paltry tootsie rolls. If you doubt me, try offering a dragon a tootsie roll. You will learn.

Even still, I am a peacekeeper. I feel sorry that dragons never get an invite to Halloween. This year, my daughter already said she wanted to be a vampire, but I’m going to try to convince her that being a dragon would be way cooler. Maybe, among all the other beasts and ghoulies, a lone, brave dragon will finally have its Halloween hurrah.

Get your fire extinguishers ready.

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A Character Interview from “Vivid”–Vivian Cartwright

I had fun reading through this character interview for Andrea Murray’s main protagonist in her Vivid trilogy. Vivian Cartwright is a bright, quirky teenager and as someone who has long since left the teen-years, I still found her to be a likable and relatable with her self-deprecating humor and all the hints at the pain from her past.

Enjoy the “interview” below. Also, don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway of our TWO books–Vivid and Slither. It’s free to enter, and who doesn’t like free books? Scroll to the bottom of this post to submit an entry. And now…on to the interview!

Vivian Cartwright

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Tell me about yourself.

I’m not sure what you want to know. I’m a regular girl except I can do all this stuff I wish I couldn’t. I lost my mom when I was five, and I’ve never met my dad. Aunt Charlotte is my only family, and we pretty much keep to ourselves, except for Abby, my best–only–friend. I try to stay off the radar, but my mouth sometimes gets the better of me.

What kind of music do you like? Who’s your favorite musician/band? What’s your favorite song?

Aunt Charlotte made sure my education extended to all things 80s, so I love all those big-hair bands! Bon Jovi, Def Leppard–all those guys in tights and too much hairspray are my favorites. My favorite song is pretty much anything 80s but no power ballads. Lots of drums, screaming guitars, and loud singers that’s what I like.

What is your favorite meal?

Aunt Charlotte’s meatloaf with skin-on mashed potatoes and brown gravy followed by cupcakes with buttercream frosting–the best!

Who is your hero? Why?

My mom’s my hero. I can’t remember much about her, but I know she was protecting me from something or someone. We spent everyday running, but she never stopped being my mom. She always tried to make life as normal as possible considering we spent lots of nights sleeping in our car. Being able to cook a hotdog just by holding it was pretty impressive, too.

If your protagonist is “normal,” what powers would your character have if he were a superhero?

Yeah, don’t think this question applies to me. I have enough problems with the powers I have!

What is your favorite book?

I like romance novels, but don’t tell anyone, especially not Abby who would be so mad because I’m constantly telling her to stop talking about guys. Aunt Charlotte likes to read those books with the half-naked hunks on the front, and I always make fun of her because, I mean, that’s not real literature, right? But when she’s in her garden or grading papers, I sneak one to my room and read before I go to sleep then dream about my own knight in shining armor. It sounds backward and completely sexist, but what girl doesn’t secretly wish to be loved and protected by her man?

If you had a pet, what would it be?

A pet? I’m not really a pet kind of girl. I have enough trouble taking care of myself. Can’t see myself with some tiny fluff ball with a bark that’s more annoying than cute. Cats are too stuck up; I get enough of that crap at school. So, no pet. Well, maybe a fish. You don’t have to cuddle those or walk them.

Where would you take your honey for a date?

A date? Clueless on this one. I’ve never had a date, and I’m not sure I’d do well with all that boyfriend stuff. I’d like to try, I think, but I don’t know the first thing about guys or where to take one on a date. A movie, maybe? If we went to a movie, we wouldn’t have to talk much, and he wouldn’t see how completely awkward I can be. I might get a second date out of the deal as long as we don’t have to interact!

Your protagonist is going to a movie. What movie do you see? Who do you take along? What do you get from the concession stand?

Abby and I sometimes go to the movies, and we usually see something scary because she insists on buying the tickets, and that’s what she likes. I don’t argue, but that’s never my first choice. I like funny movies. Real life is scary enough when you’ve seen what I’ve seen. I hate popcorn, but I love candy, so I usually get a box of anything chocolate.

Describe your perfect day.

I’d love a day of nothing, like a stay-at-home-in-pajamas day. I’d lie around and watch tv or read and eat junk food. Not having to deal with anyone (and not being afraid I’ll accidentally hurt someone) sounds incredible.

~

Here’s the book blurb for Vivid:
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Her entire life she has feared her power and its connection to her mother’s murder.

When Vivian Cartwright was five years old, she witnessed her mother’s death.  Now, sixteen-year-old Vivian only wants a normal life, hard to accomplish when you possess the power to control energy. Her entire life she has feared her power and its connection to her mother’s murder and has kept her ability a secret from everyone except her guardian, Charlotte, who has hidden Vivian from the man responsible for her mother’s murder.

Her secret is safe until Vivian defends herself at school using her power. After this first use of her gift in many years, Vivian’s power seems to take on a mind of its own, increasing in strength and demanding to be used. When she is assigned to tutor the would-be boyfriend of Trista Parmer (a.k.a. the biggest diva in school), Vivian cannot deny the electrifying connection that she feels for the boy, Easton Garrett.  In her desire to get Easton away from Vivian, Trista doubles her efforts to humiliate Vivian, forcing Vivian to use her supernatural gift over and over.  This increase in power also brings dreams of her mother’s death and the mysterious man associated with it. In her desire to unlock her past, Vivian is forced to use her supernatural gift over and over.  With each use, Vivian fears she is losing control and discovers her powers are growing—maybe too much—bringing her unknowingly closer to the man who murdered her mother.

Buy now, at:    Amazon       Barnes and Noble      Dragon Moon Press

More about the author:

andrea imageAndrea Murray’s love of English didn’t begin until high school. In fact, in elementary school, she hated reading and never read a book unless she was forced to read. She found her joy as a ninth grader when she began reading classic short stories like “The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Cask of Amontillado”. After that, she knew she wanted to study English and teach kids like her who weren’t entirely thrilled with English. She graduated valedictorian of her high school class in the same little town where she still lives and earned a BSE in English and an MA in English from Arkansas State University, where she also earned honors as the Outstanding BSE graduate in English. Andrea has now been teaching English for twenty years. She’s taught journalism, freshman composition, every level of junior high and high school English, and Pre-AP and AP literature. Andrea is also a two-time teacher of the year. She lives in Arkansas with Chris, her high school sweetheart and husband of twenty plus years; their two children, Olivia and Wyatt; and their rambunctious German Shepherd, Claus, in a possibly haunted house. She co-coaches her daughter’s three-time state champion Odyssey of the Mind team. She loves Victorian British literature focused on that when earning her MA. Her first true love is historical romance. She can remember sneaking her mother’s trashy romance novels when she was a young teenager and reading while mother was grocery shopping. Her favorites were always the Medieval and pirate stories, but she also loves young adult literature and just about anything paranormal or with a superhero. She’s a proud Mensan and is addicted to television. When she isn’t watching bad science fiction movies, she spends her time reading. In addition to her young adult paranormal romance series The Vivid Trilogy, she has written The Omni Duology, a young-adult dystopian duo. In 2014, she was a finalist for the Darrell Award and a runner-up for the Book Country About the Book Award.

Social Media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/andreamurrayfanpage/

https://twitter.com/byandreamurray

https://byandreamurray.com/

Giveaway

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