Hey gang, I'm up to my sculpted eyebrows in my current WIP so I'm treating you all to another guest author.
Please welcome my guest and debut author Kylie Griffin!
Guest Blog for Writer’s Gone Wild – “Tormented Heroines”
As a reader some of my favorite "keepers" on my bookshelf contain characters we often label as tortured or tormented.
For example, one of my favorite tortured heroes is Zarek from Sherrilyn Kenyon's DANCE WITH THE DEVIL. He's an illegitimate son of a Roman noble, disfigured by a lifetime of abuse, reviled for his appearance, sold as a slave, and exiled and shunned by his Dark-Hunter peers. Quite a laundry list of issues to deal with, eh?
What I loved about his story was finding out how he gained the reputation of being the cold, cynical bad-boy of the Dark-Hunter world, and then how he dealt with his past and the problems his behavior created in the present.
But tortured heroes don't just have to be male. I also love reading (and writing) about tormented heroines. Whether it's an physical affliction or an emotional one, seeing how these characters struggle to cope with or deal with their issues is a huge hook for me.
I had a lot of fun writing about Annika, the heroine in my debut release. VENGEANCE BORN (Berkley Sensation) is her story. She's a tormented heroine. A half demon, half human hybrid, she’s grown up knowing her demon father kidnapped and raped her human mother to breed a half-blood child so he could get even with an old enemy.
In the scene below, Kalan - the hero of the story - discovers a secret Annika's kept hidden from him. They've escaped from the dungeons of her father's fortress and on the run, trying to make it to human territory but ingrained perceptions and distrust influence their actions.
Kalan turned his stormy gaze on her. “Why’d you lie to me?”
Fear clawed in her gut. Would he pick up where Vash had left off if she refused to answer him?
“I didn’t lie to you.” To her shame, her voice trembled. “I neglected to tell you something important.”
“You used deflection and deception.” His accusation cut like a whip. She flinched. “When were you going to tell me who you were?”
“Would you have helped me had you known who I was?” she demanded. His silence answered for him. “Hesia might have had faith in your reputation as a Light Blade but I didn’t, not when my life hung in the balance.”
His face darkened with her reckless tone. “Your life? Your lineage ensured your status among the Na’Reish.”
Blood drained from her face. She sucked in a ragged breath. “You think that gave me an advantage?” Her voice rose and cracked. “My father barely tolerated me.”
“Then why did he let you live?”
“Revenge.” She bit out the word even before she had the chance to think.
Kalan blinked then a slow frown marred his brow. Merciful Mother, surely he didn’t imagine her father cared for her? Her temper soared higher.
“Savyr’s firstborn son was killed by a Light Blade warrior.” Trembling, she ground out the facts past stiff lips. “He wanted the human responsible dead, but that was before he learned the warrior had offspring of his own. A daughter. So, he captured her instead then raped her until she fell pregnant.”
Chills raced along her arms. The memory of watching her father’s dark lips peel back over his fangs in a malicious smile terrified her even now. He’d taken such pleasure in telling her how her mother had screamed and fought him. Even knowing how sadistic and malicious he could be, the thought of him forcing her mother, time after time, made her sick to her soul.
While raping slaves wasn’t condoned by the Na’Reish, it was a practice rarely spoken about. Especially considering bloodline purity played such a prominent role in their culture. Many talked about Savyr’s obsession for revenge but few were naïve enough to question him about it in his presence.
Annika clenched her hands. “He made sure she couldn’t kill herself or injure the baby inside her so that she’d lose it. For nearly eleven months, he’d kept her chained to a bed in his private chambers, her every move observed by loyal blood-slaves.”
Kalan still watched her, his gaze intense, his expression shuttered. Unlike the other humans in her father’s household, he hadn’t flinched or grimaced with the details of her mother’s story. Did he believe her?
It shocked her to realize she wanted him to, badly. Blood pounded in her head. Had it been a mistake to tell him anything? She couldn’t hold his gaze and stared at the wooden boards beneath her boots. When would she learn not to care about what others thought?
Her fingernails bit into the skin on the palms of her hands. He was going to hear the rest of the story whether he believed her or not.
“Once I was born, Savyr intended sending us back to her father. The disgrace of returning with a Na’Chi child would’ve satisfied my father’s need for revenge, but the birthing was difficult. It took too long. My mother died. If I believe his version of events, she did it just to spite him. Sending me back to my grandfather alone served no purpose. There was no proof of my bloodline. So, he kept me and has reminded me daily of why I existed.”
His blood runs through your veins. Savyr’s angry mantra echoed in her head. Breaking you is the only satisfaction I have left.
Defying him had brought her a great amount of satisfaction. She wanted to believe her endurance and strength were traits inherited from her mother.
The smile that stretched her lips felt brittle, crooked. “Someone had to pay for the death of his son.”
Her past was distasteful, yet worse was the hope and assumption that Kalan might accept her. The expressionless mask on his face gave away nothing but his recent actions proved he was just like everyone else. He didn’t care.
Annika buried her disappointment and hurt deep but couldn’t stop trembling. She’d made a mistake thinking her life could be anything different. Hesia’s love was a blessing and she’d abandoned her to follow a haze-induced dream.
She met Kalan’s eyes, her gaze steady but inside she felt as frozen as the water rushing beneath the ferry. Her next words, forced from between numb lips, felt like shards of ice slicing her throat. “Tell me, Light Blade, what privileges do you think I inherited being bred as a tool of retribution?”
Hardly the ideal start for a child or the perfect life for a person, is it? Intriguing content for a story, but tie in the added problems of cultural and social rank to her burden and things get really interesting.
Bloodline purity in demon culture is paramount. Being Na’Chi in demon society, Annika belongs at the very bottom of the social order - even the human slaves who serve the Na'Reish demons rank above her. Imagine how both human and demons would treat a child of mixed blood, and then throw in the added complication of an ancient war between the races and racial prejudice.
And what if Annika dreams of escaping her life to find out more about her human heritage? Or hopes to find someone who will love her for who she is? How's she going to deal with and resolve these issues?
Well, VENGEANCE BORN reveals all :-), and to find out you'll have to read Annika's story. Lucky I have a spare copy to giveaway.
So, what do you think about tormented heroines? Do you like reading about them? Does the idea of a tormented heroine interest you or turn you off reading a story? To go into the draw for the copy of VENGEANCE BORN, share your thoughts.
VENGEANCE BORN blurb
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…
Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy.
With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons—and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.
When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council—and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…
Kylie Griffin Bio
Kylie Griffin’s obsession with all things paranormal/fantasy started at an early age, when she used to imagine the jacaranda tree in her front yard was a spaceship used to defend the world from invading enemies. Writing stories seemed a natural extension to her childhood adventures.
Today, she’s a primary school teacher sharing her love for the written word with young children. In her spare time, she writes and reads all things paranormal.
Kylie lives in a small rural village in outback New South Wales, Australia, where she volunteers in a number of emergency service organizations in her local community. Visit her website at www.kyliegriffin.com