Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Adrienne Wilder – I am a writer of contemporary and speculative fiction and artist of all things monster. I live to create new worlds and the people in them.
Thanks so much, Adrienne, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Adrienne Wilder: The moment I could hold a crayon. I can still remember my first “novel”, The Fat Cat Sat on A Hat.
Spoiler alert: The hat went flat.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
AW:I write speculative fiction, which basically means everything other than contemporary. And I also write contemporary.
I do my best to write character driven stories that are fast paced and multifaceted. Important moments are always in detail, whether a fight scene or a sex scene.
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
AW: I write multiple stories at the same time and this is why. If I get stumped on one, I jump to another until something knocks loose. So while that one book may take 4-5 years because of difficulty, I often get out 5-6 other books in that time.
JSC: Where do you like to write?
AW: Starbucks piled on one of their couches or my desk at home.
JSC: Name the book you like most among all you’ve written, and tell us why.
AW: In The Absence of Light. Because it gave me an opportunity to show that no matter the extent of a disability, a person can still be whole, they can still make choices, and while their struggles may be different, they are still individuals.
It also gave me the opportunity to just because they have obstacles, maybe even a few they can’t defeat, they don’t allow the disability to define them.
And of course, toothpicks, peach bread, barefoot/flipflop, and my personal favorite, Bullshitometer.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for NoX?
AW: I don’t think I ever choose a topic for a book. The stories just happen. Sometimes all at once, sometimes an overview, sometimes in bits and pieces. I this instance, I got the idea for a shifter book, but it wasn’t just any kind of shifter, so I had to dig through piles of internal questions, take lots of notes, until I found the answer.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing NoX?
AW: Remember the digging through piles of internal questions? There were lots of them, and sometimes they got mixed up with parts that didn’t go with this book (also how I knew there could be a second one) and the questions didn’t always have answers my main characters could provide, so I had to figure out who I was missing, and how they played a part in it all.
Interpretation: Hardest part of this book was ripping out 60K words at least three times and rewriting the ending at least 20.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
Not sure if inspiration is the right word. Compulsion, is probably closer to the truth. Getting a 360 degree view of what happened, on different timetables, that eventually meet up. The fight scenes were pretty hard too. Not as much to write them but to make sure they didn’t get repetitive.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
AW: I’m autistic.
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
AW: Well, luckily, Pello is not on my keyboard or he’d break it. But I have three cats, Lola, Charlie, and Mort. And I have three dogs, Pello, Fin, and Cinder.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
AW: I draw, and am trying to learn how to do stylized art to create a few graphic novels out of my books.
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
AW: A boat, fuel for the boat, and a distress radio.
JSC: What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
AW: Of my current worlds, Bound Gods, because of the diverse opportunities for who I could be.
And now for Adrienne’s new book: NoX:
A nude man invades Luca Suarez’s home and protects him from creatures who cannot exist.
Creatures hunting him.
The stranger can’t tell Luca why. He can’t even tell Luca his name.
He remembers nothing until the moment he sees Luca.
The only hint Luca has to the stranger’s identity is a tattoo on his wrist: N o X
Nox doesn’t know who he is, but he’s sure of three things, his memory loss is temporary, the monsters chasing Luca are called Anubis, and his Alpha, Koda, sent Nox to protect him.
There’s just one problem… Koda is Luca’s brother who was murdered five years ago.
With each passing hour, Nox fills in the pieces painting an impossible truth. And with each passing hour, both men find themselves unexplainably attracted to each other.
Something Luca is willing to embrace because he has nothing left to lose.
And one Nox can’t let happen because it could get Luca killed.
Nox is a HEA/HFN m/m paranormal, science-fiction romance.
But be warned, these are NOT the shifters you are used to reading about.
C H A P T E R 1
The neighbor’s dog wouldn’t stop barking.
Outside the kitchen window, Mr. Oak’s Border Collie was nothing more than a flash of black and white as he circled the barn at the edge of the pasture.
A line of dark clouds stained the horizon, washing out the sunset. Wind tossed up a cloud of dirt to dance around the dog.
Luca rinsed the glass under the flow of water and set it in the drying rack beside the sink with the rest of the dinner dishes.
Buster continued to bark.
Luca pressed his fingers to his temple. With every burst of sound, a dull throb beat behind his eyes.
How many times had Luca hauled the animal back to his owner’s house a half-mile down the road this week? At least five, and it was only Wednesday.
“Damn it, Buster, I’m not in the mood for this.” Luca took the length of rope off the peg near the door. His muscles protested the climb down the small flight of steps from the back porch, and the constant fatigue plaguing him gnawed deeper.
He headed down the hill, thick blades of fescue grabbing at his legs left green streaks across his jeans. Despite the warm temperatures, the air kissed his skin with a chill.
The dog crouched, moving right to left a few yards outside the barn.
The Border Collie looked up, tongue flopping out the side of his mouth.
Luca unrolled the rope. “Here, let’s get you home.” He reached for the dog’s collar. Buster snapped his jaws, and Luca jerked his hand back. “Whoa, what the hell’s gotten into you?”
Normally the dog was more than willing to go for a car ride.
Half the time, Luca didn’t need the leash.
Buster lowered to his belly, exhaling in rapid breaths. He whined while he stared into shadows cast by the wooden slat walls. Luca stepped closer to the barn.
A deep growl rumbled in Buster’s chest.
Whatever he heard was either out of Luca’s range of hearing or drowned out by the thump of his heart. He paused at the threshold until his eyes adjusted to the lack of light.
Buster followed him inside. Hackles raised over the dog’s shoulders, running in a line down his back.
Luca picked up a shovel hanging from a nail just at the entrance. If whatever spooked the dog was bigger than a raccoon, Luca doubted it would do much good. At least there weren’t bears in this part of the country. At least he’d never seen one. He hoped this was not the day he did.
Luca inched his way into the structure and over to the empty stalls.
His parents had gotten rid of the horses after his brother Koda was killed. Luca had resented them for a while. When recovering from his second battle with leukemia, watching the horses from his bedroom window had been his escape. Faced with final go-round, he was thankful he wouldn’t have to worry about them when he went into hospice.
He bumped open the first stall door with his elbow. Mounds of rotting hay edged the walls where it hadn’t caught in the craters dug by hooves pawing at the ground.
The door on the second stall was reluctant to open thanks to the rust binding the hinges. Sticky strands of spider webs caught Luca’s fingers. He grimaced and scrubbed them off on his shirt. Again, nothing but shadows.
He inched past two more stalls where night filled the space between the dividers. More straw and dirt, and the heady scent of animals long gone.
The last door belonged to the storage area where they’d kept tack and feed.
With each hesitant shuffle forward, Luca’s tennis shoes left ruts in the dirt. He reached the last enclosure. Sweat burned his eyes. He licked his dry lips. Buster’s quick breaths were the only sound in the barn aside from Luca’s pulse racing in his ears.
Luca adjusted his grip on the handle of the shovel and nudged the corner of the door with his foot. It swung open easier than he’d expected. Lumps of empty feedbags and moldy bales of fescue were the only occupants of the room. Luca used the shovel to poke at the closest pile of decomposing hay.
A lone moth flittered from its perch and came to rest on the wall.
Luca glared at Buster. The dog sat.
“Seriously? A moth. You were barking at a moth.”
The dog thumped his tail against the ground, sending up puffs of dust.
Luca leaned the shovel against the edge of the partition and unwound the leash from his grip. “You better not try to bite me again.”
Thunder boomed, followed by an explosion of wings erupting from the rafters. Luca whirled, catching the leg of his jeans on the end of the shovel. His ass hit the ground, and Buster yelped while fleeing from the barn. Feathers and dirt rained from the flock of pigeons retreating out a hole in the roof.
“Damn it.” Tufts of down floated to the ground around Luca.
He shoved himself to his feet.
Buster continued to shrink in the distance in his mad run toward home.
Luca knocked the dust out of his hair. “Stupid dog.” At least it saved him a trip down the road.
He picked up the shovel and returned it to the nail on his way out, then made his way up the hill where he stopped at the back door. Luca flapped his shirt, shaking loose bits of straw and old shavings sticking to his clothes before going in.
He hung the makeshift leash back on the peg.
Tomorrow he’d call Mr. Oaks and see if the elderly man could fix his fence. Or at least put up a pen to keep Buster in when he let him out. Mr. Oaks had kids and grandkids: surely one or a couple would help him rig something up. Luca would have offered but most days he did well to take care of himself and the few chores needed to keep the house livable.
He pushed the back door shut and parted the curtain on the window. The sky churned with green clouds cut with gray, rushing in nightfall. Tree limbs tapped the back side of the house, and fat rain droplets met their fate against the kitchen window.
The rattle of the tin roof followed Luca into the living room.
If the weather worsened, he might be spending the night in the cellar.
Luca grabbed the remote off the coffee table, turned on the TV, and plopped down on the couch. After a few commercials, the news came on. Most of it was the usual recap on the week’s worth of violence in both the US and overseas: countries torn apart, people displaced, prejudice, hate, poverty, suffering.
Why couldn’t people just let one another live? Why couldn’t they see how precious life was? How quick it could disappear.
A warm breeze tossed up sheets of paper with his medical bills on the end table and flicked his bangs. Luca turned.
The back door swung wide hitting the counter with a gentle thump. Wind tugged at the curtains and bits of hay tumbled across the floor. Luca left the remote on the sofa and walked back into the kitchen. The next gust caught the screen door and slung it into the side of the house. Luca grabbed it before it could smack the wall again, and latched it shut.
He closed the kitchen door. He turned the lock.
The ice maker clattered, and he startled. It shut off, leaving behind the voices on the TV. The newsman announced the upcoming weather report, and Luca headed back into the living room.
Movement blurred in his periphery.
The man wore no clothes and bits of straw stuck in his dark hair. A scar cut across the bridge of his nose, and the shadow of a beard almost hid a second scar on his chin. He tangled his hands in Luca’s shirt, cinching the fabric around his chest.
Luca slammed his fist into the guy’s jaw, sending a bone-sharp ache up his arm. He didn’t think the man felt it until he opened his grip. Luca hit the floor, and kicked himself backward, tennis shoes squeaking against the hardwood.
The stranger lumbered, chasing Luca’s desperate retreat.
With every step the man took, the muscles running down his thick arms and powerful thighs rippled with valleys.
Luca hit the wall with his shoulders and scrambled to stand.
The stranger fell forward, planting his knees on either side of Luca’s legs, forcing him to the ground, pinning him in place with the weight of his body.
The man put his hand on Luca’s throat, and he bit back the scream trying to claw out of his chest.
Hard eyes burned into Luca, and spit flecked the stranger’s bottom lip with every hiss of air he pushed from between his clenched teeth.
Sweat dripped down Luca’s temple. Air burned in and out of his lungs.
The stranger’s furious gaze softened, and his thick eyebrows formed a vee above his slightly crooked nose. He skirted his fingertips to Luca’s jaw, tracing a line to his cheek, then the shell of his ears. Tattooed on the inside of his wrist were the letters N O X.
“Luca.” Even in a whisper, his voice was deep.
“How do you know my name?” Luca had never seen this guy. Yet the distinct air of familiarity surrounded him. Not like Luca had met him before, but rather he’d known him his entire life.
The stranger touched Luca’s lips.
He jerked back, whacking his head against the wall.
The man leaned closer. An exotic, spicy odor tainted the scent of male musk staining his skin.
“My wallet and keys for the truck are in the bowl on the table by the door. Take them. Just take them and go.” Luca tried to shove the man off.
The man blinked several times, and some confusion left his expression. “You can’t stay here.”
I am a writer of contemporary and speculative fiction and artist of all things monster. I live to create new worlds and the people in them. Several of my books have been best sellers both nationally and internationally. I have also been a finalist in the LAMDA awards.
I do my best to write original stories with powerful characters and emotion as well as a fast-paced plot. My goal isn’t just to deliver a good story but to take the reader into the story and let them experience the characters as if they are right there with them.
While almost all my books have a romantic element, I will be the first to admit, they are not traditional romance. In fact, I’d like to think there is nothing traditional about them. And the stories I paint are done so way outside the lines of traditional genres.
One of my favorite things to do as a writer is push the boundaries of what makes a story and to deliver the unexpected and maybe even change the perspective of the reader.
My characters are more often than not, beautifully flawed, not always the good guy, and make mistakes. Their stories will take dark turns which, in the end, make the light at the end of the tunnel all the brighter.
If you’re looking for something different, exciting, and unique, my books are for you.
Adrienne’s Darkside of the Rainbow FB Group: