A MelanieM Review: Sins of the Son (Arcadia Trust, #3) by Christian Baines

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Abandoned by his werewolf lover, the only thing Reylan wants is to return to his vampire life of blood and beautiful boys. It’s a solid plan, until his first meal as a single man tries to kill him.

Hoping to free his young would-be assassin from the religious zealots that sent him, Reylan enlists the help of Iain Grieg, a charismatic priest with unsettling knowledge of the night’s secrets.

Surrounded by conflicting agendas and an army fuelled by hate, Reylan fights to secure his future, if he can only trust the mysterious priest and bury the ghosts of the past.

As I read my way through Sins of the Son (Arcadia Trust, #3) by Christian Baines I couldn’t help but think about how far the main character, vampire Reylan, has come from that first meeting back in The Beast Without.  For sheer ferocity and merciliness there were few beings who could best him. Reylan was an apex predator in his prime.  And if I’m to be honest, I admired that in his character as it seemed; true to his nature and all the vampires as Baines was  using them here. At the time, it was far from the sparkling, sort of bloodless vampires ruling the year at the time.  It was refreshing.

But Reylan was intelligent as well as predatory. And the author had a complicated, magically dense narrative arc in store for the characters and series so as the intricate plots developed, so did Reylan’s emotional growth.  Through loss, through revelation, through devastating events in the first two novels, we saw Reylan gather together an odd sort of crew or family and change.  Sins of the Son represents another step forward in this character’s process and I find it endlessly fascinating.

Astonishingly full of action and mystery, we enter into a scene of chaos, another reason to love this story and series.  There’s no easing in, nor given the nature of theses beings and the various storylines, should there be. I hesitate to talk about the plot, the new characters introduced, or even the older ones that appear again.  It’s all a part of a labyrinthine tale that’s still working it’s way through the pattern the author has plotted out, and  the path ahead is murky indeed. Delightly, horrifically so.

I loved the twists and turns here,some downright shocking as the deaths that flowed and the blood that spilled.  The ending itself is one long incredibly white knuckle horror flight that’s just amazing.

Christian Baines has written three books that build on each other like superlative supernatural building blocks, full of gorgeous passionate, and yes deadly characters in an incredible world of magic and the mundane, which is getting more layered, more fantastical by the story.  I can’t wait for the next book to arrive.

If you are looking for swooning romance, or soft hearted any other type of love, truly this is not the tale for you.  Love there is but not for the faint hearted.    I find this a series and book to sink your teeth into and highly recommend it.  If you are new to it, start at the first novel.  I have listed them all for your convenience below.  I love and recommend them all.

Cover art: I think this really works, especially the font with the different color lettering and the person in the background.  Well done.

 

Buy Link:  Amazon

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 233 pages
Published January 20th 2019
Original Title Sins of the Son
ASIN B07MH3P4TR
setting Sydney, New South Wales (Australia)

Arcadia Trust Series: each is not a standalone story but builds on the one before:

The Beast Without

The Orchard of Flesh

Sins of the Son

New Release Tour for Sins of the Son (Arcadia Trust, #3) by Christian Baines (excerpt and giveaway)

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Sins of the Son (Arcadia Trust #3) by Christian Baines

Expected publication: January 20th 2019

Buy Link:  Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Christian Baines on tour with his latest novel, Sins of the Son.  Welcome, Christian.

 

SINS OF THE SON Blog Tour #3: Sloth

WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG? ARE YOU EVEN WRITING? HELLO?

Welcome to day three of my Sins of the Son blog tour. Thanks for joining me, and thanks so much to Melanie and the team at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today – where the theme is… sloth.

Yes, I know. Sloth? Others get exciting sins like wrath, envy, pride, and lust. I get sloth? Really, Christian?

Okay, I know sloth might not seem like the most exciting sin, but besides being a favourite sin of many (you know who you are), I decided to make this the ‘sloth’ post in honour of a question Melanie asked me in an interview about the last Arcadia Trust book, The Orchard of Flesh about the lengthy time span between books in the series. It’s usually a couple of years between Arcadia Trust books, which is slow compared to romance authors who put out a new release every few months, or even those ‘Big 5’ authors faithfully putting out one book a year.

First off, I want to promise you it’s not sloth! I’m attaching this topic to today’s theme in jest. But just in case anyone thinks I’m being mean or sitting on my hands, making my readers wait, I promise you, I’m not. I’m always working on something, even if it’s not an Arcadia Trust book. I love these books and these characters. If you like paranormal and want an introduction to my work that’s easy to get into and comes with a romantic streak, start with them. But I also love weirder, more experimental work, which has led me to do books like Puppet Boy and Skin. My current WIP also isn’t an Arcadia Trust book (though work on book 4 in the series is on the way).

When The Beast Without came out, that was my first introduction to the MM romance world. The book itself is a weird fit to that world, because while romance is an important part of its story, it doesn’t really follow romance beats and tropes, so I don’t sell it as a ‘romance’ novel. It’s urban fantasy with some male/male action. Possibly love. That’s it. No false advertising here. One of the things that hit me on entering this world was seeing the speed at which some authors pumped out new releases. Every four months, three months, or even less. I had no idea if this was ‘normal’ in romance world, but it was kind of intimidating. While I tapped away on the second Arcadia Trust book and Puppet Boy at the same time, I started to wonder how I was going to keep up. Did I have to keep up? Would people just forget about me if more than a year passed between releases?

When a friend reached out, asking if I had any short stories or other material that his publisher could take a look at, I bit. I spruced up a story I’d been playing with as an erotic short, gave it an ending I sort of liked and sent it off. To my astonishment, the publisher accepted it, and I had a contract, cover, and editor within a few days.

I like that short. I think it’s the beginnings of a great story. But it had no business going out into the big bad world on its own. It was like a short film that’s really just a teaser for producers you hope will invest in a feature. Yet the pull to produce something and keep my name out there was so strong, I felt compelled to release it. Critics were… confused, to say the least. I’m not embarrassed by it. It’s a good story. But it was also a valuable lesson that rapid-fire releases aren’t for me.

Anyone who seems to write and publish at lightning speed (and there are some fakes, but most just develop a solid habit of working quickly – I recommend L A Witt’s book Writing Faster FTW) will tell you

is that there is no good or bad speed at which to write. The ‘right’ speed is the one that allows each book you put out to be as good as it can be.

So what takes so long with the Arcadia Trust books? Planning. Insane amounts of plotting and planning.

The Arcadia Trust is essentially a serial. I make each one self-contained enough that a new reader can pick it up and get a complete narrative, but they will find references to a plot that unfolds over several books. If you’ve read either of the previous Arcadia trust books, you know my protagonist, Reylan, has a soft spot for troubled young men. The one he meets in Sins of the Son however, bears a startling resemblance to a lost friend. Reylan also receives help from an unexpected new ally. Or has Iain Grieg been in the picture longer than Reylan knows?

When writing a series, I try to drop hints, Easter eggs, veiled clues ,references to other books… anything I think will make it fun for loyal readers. That means knowing what’s going on in behind doors 1, 2, 4, and 5 while your camera is fixed and rolling on door number 3. Working out interesting ways to reveal that to the reader without switching point-of-view or spoiling whatever mystery you’re building. Having a character who subtly influenced events in book one come back to bring their plan to fruition later. It’s fun, and it forces you to dive deep, knowing your characters so well you can follow their actions and thoughts the whole time they’re ‘off-screen.’

And it’s time consuming for the author to keep it all clear and easy for a reader to follow. But it’s worth it, I think, for both reader and author, particularly in this genre.

In Sins of the Son, things are gearing up in the Arcadia Trust universe. The background players are emerging from the shadows and making their agendas known. Reylan and other characters you know and love have more at stake than their own safety and happiness. In short, Sins of the Son is where it all changes and things start to get real for the night-time denizens of Sydney.

I promise it was worth the wait.

GIVEAWAY: WIN your choice of one e-book edition of either of the first two Arcadia Trust novels, The Beast Without or The Orchard of Flesh. NEXT: Which trope keeps coming back to raise the WRATH of LGBTQs? Find out at Queer Sci-Fi on January 20, release day for Sins of the Son.

Blurb

Abandoned by his werewolf lover, the only thing Reylan wants is to return to his vampire life of blood and beautiful boys. It’s a solid plan, until his first meal as a single man tries to kill him.

Hoping to free his young would-be assassin from the religious zealots that sent him, Reylan enlists the help of Iain Grieg, a charismatic priest with unsettling knowledge of the night’s secrets.

Surrounded by conflicting agendas and an army fuelled by hate, Reylan fights to secure his future, if he can only trust the mysterious priest and bury the ghosts of the past.

Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Release date: January 20, 2019

Series: The Arcadia Trust #3

Setting: Sydney, Australia

Length: 282 pages

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Excerpt

I ducked in time to avoid the stake that shattered the glass cabinet behind me. When I looked up, my young attacker was already closing in, a shining blade in each hand. Balancing my weight on the kitchen counter, I pushed my feet hard into his chest. A blade nicked my ankle. I leapt upon my target and pushed him the floor, gripping his chin and pinning his right shoulder.

He blindsided me across the jaw with the dull edge of the other blade, breaking my hold.

I staggered, sizing up the left-handed assassin. Narrowly avoiding his weapon as he lunged again, I grabbed hold of his hair and threw him into my dining table with a crash.

I clapped a firm hand over his mouth, muffling his cries as I slammed his left wrist against the table, forcing him to drop the knife. The blade in his opposite hand flashed as he struck out with it.

I yanked him off his feet and dragged him across the floor before he could find his mark. Ignoring muffled roars of protest, I buried my teeth in his shoulder, puncturing through his flimsy mesh vest. His youth, his anger, his alarmingly good health, all brought such a warmth and sweetness to…

The foul taste of bitter roots spoiled the stream. Poison. I shoved the boy away, spitting rancid blood over his face. When he came at me again, I used his momentum to topple him into the living room. I snatched up the knife he’d left on the kitchen table and trained it on him as he regained his feet.

The boy had to have known the true nature of his prey. Why else would he lead with a wooden stake, knowing he was far outclassed for natural speed and strength? Or was he?

He lunged again, this time happily using his right hand. Was he ambidextrous? I couldn’t tell, not while ducking his blows. He kicked me in the gut before pivoting his back foot up and into my chest.

I dropped to the floor just in time to sweep his legs out from under him. His forehead glanced off one of the side tables, though this didn’t stop him from grabbing the lamp and throwing it at me with a force that plunged the room into darkness. I caught his weight as he came at me again, spinning him into the living room, bound for a set of shelves which splintered and collapsed, spilling their contents and my attacker to the floor. He sprang to his feet and snatched up a piece of broken wood.

Contrary to the myths of horror fiction, it would take more than a splinter of wood through the heart to kill me outright. I was not, however, in a rush to be paralysed, nor left unconscious at the mercy of whatever lethal objects remained in the boy’s backpack. The one he’d collected from the club’s cloakroom, that he’d so adamantly held onto when I’d offered to carry it. The one he’d taken with him, when he’d retreated to my bathroom to change.

Did I have to start bag checking my trade now?

He sliced the air before me with his knife, following it up with a staking attempt. I grabbed his knife-wielding hand, but he twisted his arm out of reach, nicking my hand in the process. I licked the wound as I backed off, kicking away a broken cat figurine from the rubble that had once been my bookshelves.

“Alright, you little bastard,” I muttered under my breath. “Are we going to talk, or does this get nasty?”

“Maledetto.” He raised the stake once more.

“Excuse me?”

“Maledetto!” He cried, striking out at me.

I ducked to avoid it only to have the hand holding the knife slam into my jaw. I barely realised I’d been faked out before the stake plunged into my chest, missing my heart by inches. Choking down the pain that shot through my entire body, I caught the boy’s arm before he could slice my throat. Not that that would have killed me either, but to quote a wise and much underrated human expression, that which does not kill me still stings like a bitch.

About the Author

Christian Baines has written on travel, theatre, film, television, and various aspects of gay life, factual and fictional. Some of his stranger thoughts have spawned novels, including queer urban fantasy series The Arcadia Trust, the horror novella Skin, and Puppet Boy, which was a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. Born in Australia, he now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on those odd occasions he can’t find his passport.

Web: http://www.christianbaines.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/christianbainesauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/xtianbaines

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7024194.Christian_Baines

Giveaway

The author is offering an e-book of either The Beast Without or The Orchard of Flesh to one winner.at each blog stop. To enter to win, leave a comment along with a email address where you can be reached if chosen.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

A MelanieM Review: The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust #2) by Christian Baines

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Orchard of FleshReylan’s last assignment for The Arcadia Trust brought a rebellious human servant under his roof, and a volatile werewolf lover named Jorgas into his bed, leaving the self-reliant Blood Shade–known to the outside world as vampires–in no hurry to risk his immortality for them again. But when a new terror starts disappearing humans from a bad part of town, Reylan must do everything in his power to keep Sydney’s supernatural factions from the brink of war. Having an ambitious, meddlesome human in the mix is only going to make things worse…especially when that human is Jorgas’s father. Reylan will need all his determination and cunning to keep the peace under his roof, between the night’s power brokers, and in his lover’s troubled heart.

Christian Baines brings us back into the world of Reylan and the Arcadia Trust series by means of a mystery.  Humans are disappearing from a notoriously bad part of town and suspicions are pointing towards a Blood Shade, the preferred term for vampire.  Reylan is asked to investigate and does so because his interests are closely entwined and his curiosity piqued.

By launching us directly back into the seamy undersides of Sydney, Baines gives us the gritty, reality that is sometimes missing from supernatural novels with a romance bent.  As I mentioned in my previous review of the first story, The Beast Without, there’s no sparkle to be found anywhere near these Blood Shades, thank you very much.  And the werewolves?  They are alpha predators to the bone with neither beings exhibiting any guilt or making apologies about who and what they are.  Its sort of refreshing.

In fact Reylan is an asexual being..except for the fact that Jorgas seems to negate that whenever they come in contact to one another and then the heat between them is almost combustible.  Reylan has to ignore the fact that their union is considered an unholy alliance by all factions outside of themselves.  And what is it about this strange and unusual investigation that has so many threads leading back to not only the most powerful Blood Shade in Sydney, but to Jorgas’ father too.  Baines has a veritable tapestry of plot threads here, and he’s woven them skillfully throughout the novel that it carries us along, throughly connected to the characters, the relationships that are evolving and the new situations that are being revealed.

One of the things I love is the idea here of mannequins, an undead servant that is adopted by a Blood Shade.  It is a big deal, and not done lightly.  Brett, from the first novel is Reylan’s mannequin and things are not going smoothly with his transition from human to mannequin.  Baines lets us see what might happen when that occurs.  Here the person is unprepared and just perhaps, maybe even the wrong choice.  Its a fascinating element and I love watching it evolve.

But for all the locations, the mysteries, the grittiness and just the plain, out and out terrific writing, its the characters that stick with you.  I know they have since the first time I met them in The Beast Without.  I had to wait for this one.  And while, yes there is a bit of a cliffhanger, Baines has promised the wait for the third story won’t be as long.

You should read the first book in the series to get all the world building and characters firmly in place before picking up The Orchard of the Flesh.  But as that remains a favorite of mine, I would have recommended that to you as well anyway. Pick them both up and get started today. This is an amazing series full of remarkable characters.  I can’t wait for the third story  now to arrive.

Cover art is quite wonderful and works for the story and character.

Sales Links

Bold Strokes Books

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

Book Details:

ebook
Published August 16th 2016 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781626396500
SeriesArcadia Trust #2 settingSydney (Australia)

Series: Arcadia Trust:

The Beast Without (Arcadia Trust, #1)
The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust, #2)

In the Spotlight: The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust #2) by Christian Baines (author interview)

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The Orchard of Flesh

The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust #2) by Christian Baines
Bold Strokes Books

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here at Bold Strokes Books

 Other Sales Links

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christian Baines here today to talk about writing, his characters and his latest release, The Orchard of Flesh. Welcome, Christian.

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  •  In The Beast Without…the vampires and werewolves weren’t civilized creatures but more apex predators.  What made you go in that direction?

They’re civilized to a point, but they’re not timid or gentle, and they’re not self-loathing about what they are. I went in that direction for two reasons. One, it seemed to me like a lot of stories about vampires or werewolves established their humanity through guilt over their difference. That felt worn, and more than that, I didn’t want to reinforce their difference as being intrinsically evil. They’re all individuals, they all have things they have to do to survive, and they all make their own moral choices. If you look at it as a parallel to say, sexuality, you either learn to embrace that difference, or you go crazy. I wasn’t interested in writing self-loathing monsters.

  •  In the first story you had to lay down the foundation for your world and all the relationships.  Here in The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust, #2) you have to continue the complex story you started and the relationships as well.  What was the biggest challenge here?

The biggest challenge is keeping the storylines straight, and not introducing so much that the reader just gets confused and tunes out. There are elements in Beast Without that aren’t completely closed off by the end of that book, and they continue in Orchard of Flesh and beyond. In doing that, I’m keeping track of a bunch of plot threads, characters, and events that, even though they’re not on the page yet, are influencing the story as I’m (or Reylan is) telling it. You need to know what’s coming in the next book and maybe the one after that.

The central relationship between Reylan and Jorgas is easier in some ways because it evolves in the moment, and we see that evolution first hand. It breaks with common romance convention in that the romance isn’t confined to one book in which you know the boys are going to wind up together. I don’t make that promise. Their relationship is difficult, and it’s constantly evolving, just like every other relationship in the book’s world. Reylan’s relationship with Patricia, the head of The Arcadia Trust, which was very combative in Beast, evolves considerably here. His relationship with Brett, the human servant he adopted in Beast, is a big focus as well. His relationship with another character sours a bit. I love watching the relationships deepen gradually as the characters come to either trust or question one another. You can really bring out the details by doing that.

  •  Of the main characters, do you find you have a favorite?

Not particularly. I like characters who are elusive and kind of Machiavellian, but I go through phases and they all have aspects that I love and aspects that frustrate me. I’m always curious to know readers’ favourites though. That tells me a lot. Patricia and Jorgas are always popular, and I’m forever asked if Reylan is me. He isn’t. Or maybe he is. I don’t know. I’m not internalising it.

  •  Which is the hard one to write for you?

Kelvin, the Cloak Walker presents an interesting challenge by being invisible. There’s no image to work with there. But it’s also quite fun in that I get to come up with new and interesting ways for him to interact with people. The fact that he’s such a bad-tempered, explosive personality makes him fun too.

  • It’s been some time since the first story and the sequel.  Why the time span between the stories?

There were a lot of external factors behind that, but in the end, I don’t write quickly and I don’t see that as a bad thing for me. Initially when I got into the MM world, I’d just published Beast Without, and I would see these authors pumping out three, four, five books a year and thinking ‘My god, I can’t compete with this. I have to have something out there.’ So I put out an erotic, paranormal short, mostly because the next novel was a ways off and I felt I needed to release something. As a short, I like it. It still reads well. But it didn’t really reflect the kind of story I enjoyed writing, or reading, for that matter, and I think readers could tell. It was me caving to what I saw as this ‘pressure’ that really wasn’t there. It’s something I won’t be doing again, but it was a valuable experience.

Maybe the future Arcadia Trust books will come out faster, but they do need a lot of planning and thinking ahead. A lot of seeds are planted for payoff down the line, and the line is finite. I don’t want to be writing this series forever. There are other projects I want to do, not all of which are paranormal, or even prose, for that matter. There was Puppet Boy, which surprised a few people who loved Beast Without because it’s such a different book. But I love it. It’s another genre that I’m equally passionate about.

  •  What is your favorite aspect of the series?  Or do you have one at the moment?

Besides the deepening relationships, the humour helps, particularly if you want to take readers down a darker path. It’s funny though, people either get dark, off-beat humour or they don’t, and if they don’t, it’s no use trying to convert them. My favourite aspect though is how morally ambiguous the characters are. Most of my characters, actually, Puppet Boy’s included. They aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They just have goals, needs, and agendas. A desire for love, justice, revenge, or whatever, which may lead them to very selfish or dangerous acts. They decide what works for them as the situation requires it, and some have ethical boundaries they won’t violate, or wrongs they won’t tolerate, while others are more ‘flexible’ or pragmatic.

  • What would you like your readers to take away from your novels?

A sense that they’ve had fun with the book, and ideally, will be thinking about it for a few days. I love a story that plays with my brain and makes me think, so I try to pay that forward in my own work. Other than that, a sense that LGBTs need not be victims. A lot of the time we talk about portrayals of LGBTs that we like or don’t like in media or stories. We don’t like seeing them get killed, wind up alone, turn out to be a serial killer, etc…the list is long and varies depending on who you ask. I’m fine with any of those things, provided the LGBT character isn’t simply a victim, calculated to get our sympathy or derision.

  •  What’s next for Christian Baines?

I’m currently working on a horror story set in New Orleans, for those who like such things. It was a short story. It’s now a novella…which is probably where it’ll stay. The next Arcadia Trust book is underway as well. It introduces a character who’ll be a bit of a game-changer for the series, so I’m excited about that.

I’m also doing a number of readings/events over the next couple of months, including Flame Con in New York City in August (look for the ‘Genre Junkies’), GRL in Kansas City in October, and the Naked Heart Festival in Toronto in November. So if you’re going to going to any of those, come say hi. I don’t bite unless you buy a book and ask nicely. You can find all the details at http://www.christianbaines.com/#!news-and-events/c1pz.

Blurb

Reylan’s last assignment for The Arcadia Trust brought a rebellious human servant under his roof, and a volatile werewolf lover named Jorgas into his bed, leaving the self-reliant Blood Shade–known to the outside world as vampires–in no hurry to risk his immortality for them again.

But when a new terror starts disappearing humans from a bad part of town, Reylan must do everything in his power to keep Sydney’s supernatural factions from the brink of war. Having an ambitious, meddlesome human in the mix is only going to make things worse…especially when that human is Jorgas’s father.

Reylan will need all his determination and cunning to keep the peace under his roof, between the night’s power brokers, and in his lover’s troubled heart.

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About the Author – Christian Baines

Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Christian Baines has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theatre, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in both Australia and Canada.

Dual passions for travel and mythology have sent him across the world in search of dark and entertaining stories. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by an erotic short story, The Prince and the Practitioner.

Cover Reveal of The Orchard of Flesh By Christian Baines

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The Orchard of Flesh

The Orchard of Flesh

The Orchard of Flesh By Christian Baines
B
old Strokes Books

Release Date  August 1, 2016

Pre-order/Read An Excerpt Here


Reylan’s last assignment for The Arcadia Trust brought a rebellious human servant under his roof, and a volatile werewolf lover named Jorgas into his bed, leaving the self-reliant Blood Shade—known to the outside world as vampires—in no hurry to risk his immortality for them again.

But when a new terror starts disappearing humans from a bad part of town, Reylan must do everything in his power to keep Sydney’s supernatural factions from the brink of war. Having an ambitious, meddlesome human in the mix is only going to make things worse…especially when that human is Jorgas’s father.
Reylan will need all his determination and cunning to keep the peace under his roof, between the night’s power brokers, and in his lover’s troubled heart.

Genres Paranormal & Urban Fantasy

Words   85000

Pages   264

ISBN-13  978-1-62639-650-0

About the Author

Christian Baines

Christian Baines was born in Toowoomba, Australia. He has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theater, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in both Australia and Canada.

Dual passions for travel and mythology (both of which he attributes to growing up in Australia’s bible belt) have sent him chasing some of the world’s most feared monsters, including vampires in New Orleans, asuras in Bangkok, and theater critics in New York. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by his erotic short story, “The Prince and the Practitioner.”

Puppet Boy is his second novel.

This is a continuation of the story that started with The Beast Without
by Christian Baines* A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Highly Rated Novel.

Happy Australia Day! Celebrate with Christian Baines’ ‘Puppet Boy’ and his take on Australian Antiheroes (guest post and giveaway)

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PuppetBoy

Puppet Boy by Christian Baines
Published by Bold Strokes Books
Goodreads Link

Sales Links: Amazon US

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christian Baines back again to talk about his new release, Puppet Boy and writing Australian antihero characters.  Welcome, Christian, and happy Australia Day!

Australian Antiheroes by Christian Baines

Scheming bastards need love too. 

Thanks so much for having me back on the blog, Melanie. Always a great pleasure to be here and touch base with your readers! Before I start though, Puppet Boy’s main character, Eric, has a special Australia Day message he’d like to share with you all:

Happy Australia Day!

There. I said it. Now don’t tell me I never join in with things. Even a day that celebrates a nation so insecure it clings desperately to its forebears. A day that tries to ignore that this is a nation built on theft, colonisation, and slaughter. Oh, I know you foreigners think it’s cute. That Australia is awesome and sunny all the time, and that Aussies are all ridiculously sexy, and super nice. That we’re always surfing or drinking, when we’re not busy popping out baby Hugh Jackmans and Chris Hemsworths. That we treat all races equally and all love LGBT people and that every day in Sydney is Mardi Gras. That ours is a land of beauty, freedom, and equal opportunity at all.

I mean, sure. If that’s what the picture tells you to believe, then keep right on thinking it. Go on. Admire us. We did get our shit sorted on the whole gun thing, after all.

So let’s all say it again. Happy Australia Day! Enjoy your beach. Enjoy your barbecue. Enjoy that ‘authentic Aussie’ $8 meat pie ($12 if it’s kangaroo) you’re scarfing down at the Williamsburg organic market while trying to shield yourself from freezing New York winds. Try not to think of the blood of Indigenous nations as you smother it in tomato sau—pardon me. Ketchup. And enjoy your holiday.

Eric     

PS: That delicious Aussie flat white you’re drinking was invented in New Zealand.

Cheery, isn’t he?

Writing misanthropic characters isn’t easy. It isn’t that popular anymore either, particularly in gay fiction. The inherent optimism required in the romance genre makes it almost impossible, and in gay and MM fiction, romance is particularly dominant right now, sometimes to the point of giving readers false expectations when they pick up a non-romance book. There’s a pressure to be ‘gay positive.’ To show a world for LGBTs where everything ‘gets better’ despite the odds, depicting characters who deserve their HEA. Don’t be ambiguous. Don’t be bittersweet. Things that many people accept as a normal part of real life, yet won’t accept within the fantasy of a novel.

That’s a troubling idea for me. When we start to talk about characters in terms of what they deserve, we are inherently passing judgement on them, and this invariably limits the character.

When The Beast Without came out, a lot of readers remarked on the main character, Reylan’s cattiness, his apparent selfishness and arrogance, and other anti-social traits. Not to mention his rather dubious Blood Shade/vampire morality. For readers and critics who ‘got’ the book, this wasn’t a turn-off. It was simply there, part of what defined the character and gave him personality. Yet, Reylan also has a fiercely paternal streak, including a soft spot for lost kids/young supernaturals in trouble. Many of his friends, his servant, Brett, and his lover, are either former protégés, or lost souls he’s rescued. Reylan may pack an acid tongue, but ultimately, though he won’t admit it, he has a strong moral compass where the greater good is concerned. In the follow-up, The Orchard of Flesh, coming later this year, we get to see even more of that.

Then, there’s Eric.

I’m not going to tell anyone what to think of Eric. He’s a young man with a goal, an outspoken mind, and a social conscience, but also a decidedly skewed moral centre. He loves his girlfriend Mary, and has an obvious thing for young Middle Eastern men, to the point of keeping one tied up in his absent mother’s home theatre room. He’s caustic and cynical, but won’t spit venom at everyone he meets, and he seems to have no trouble making friends. There’s also the whole high-class rent boy thing – or maybe, as one character points out, he’s just worked out that sucking the right cock gets him taken to the opera.

A character like that doesn’t tend to fit the traditional romance archetypes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write one, or that he can’t be likeable, or that he doesn’t feel the need for love. Eric is in some ways Daria from the namesake MTV cartoon, by way of Frank Underwood from House of Cards. He calls out his world’s wrongs as he sees them, but he’s also not afraid to manipulate the hell out of those around him to get his way. Yet when you look closely at Daria and Frank, you see their vulnerabilities, and their need for human connection, even when it’s shrouded by misanthropy or arguably sociopathic behaviour.

Characters like this work when you can find the human in the monster, whether that monster is a Blood Shade/vampire, or just a young man with a goal and an enduring distrust of humanity. My favourite parts of Puppet Boy aren’t about the prisoner in Eric’s basement, or his escorting exploits, or his jerk of a music teacher. They’re the scenes where he connects with Julien, the transfer student who catches his eye. Where they talk about their inspirations and dreams for the future. Where Julien falls asleep on Eric’s chest. The scenes where we catch a glimpse of Eric’s vulnerability. Those are the scenes where I kind of fall in love with Eric and want to see him come out on top, even when his attitude annoys me. Even when his morals seem way off base.

Even when he’s making fun of my meat pie and flat white.

Happy (for what it’s worth) Australia Day!

About Puppet Boy

A school in turmoil over its senior play, a sly career as a teenage gigolo, an unpredictable girlfriend with damage of her own, and a dangerous housebreaker tied up downstairs. Any of these would make a great plot for budding filmmaker Eric’s first movie.PuppetBoy

Unfortunately, they’re his real life.

When Julien, a handsome wannabe actor, transfers to Eric’s class, he’s a distraction, a rival, and one complication too many. Yet Eric can’t stop thinking about him. Helped by Eric’s girlfriend, Mary, they embark on a project that dangerously crosses the line between filmmaking and reality. As the boys become close, Eric soon wants to cross other lines entirely. Does Julien feel the same way, or is Eric being used on the gleefully twisted path to fame?

Genre:  gay fiction, contemporary, romance, LGBTQIA fiction

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, Paperback available, 314 pages
Published November 16th 2015 by Bold Strokes Books
ASINB01784KP2I
Edition LanguageEnglish,settingSydney (Australia)

Christian Baines’ new novel, Puppet Boy is now available from Bold Strokes Books or on Amazon.

He will be signing copies at The Bookshop Darlinghurst in Sydney on January 30 at 11.30am, and reading at Hares and Hyenas in Melbourne on February 1 at 7.30pm.

About the Author

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Christian Baines

Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Christian Baines has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theatre, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in both Australia and Canada.

Dual passions for travel and mythology have sent him across the world in search of dark and entertaining stories. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by an erotic short story, The Prince and the Practitioner.

His second novel, Puppet Boy was released in late 2015.

Find Christian on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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