GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ The Story Behind the Story: Leather and Lace by Magen Cubed + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Story Behind the Story: Leather and Lace by Magen Cubed + giveaway

A lot of things have happened since Valentine’s Day 2018. That might be a bit of an understatement, given the state of things.

On February 16th, I’ll be releasing my paranormal romance and urban fantasy novel, Leather and Lace: Book One of the Southern Gothic Series. But the path to getting here had some twists along the way. ‘Leather and Lace’ first appeared as a short story in the pages of Twisted Romance from Image Comics. It was a project organized by comics writer, director, and novelist Alex de Campi, with the intended goal of telling off-beat romance stories.

Alex assembled a diverse group of comics artists and prose writers to create a genre-crashing romance anthology that spoke to all our strengths. She sent me a private message on Twitter in September 2017 and was kind enough to tell me (in a caring and supportive way, of course) that I was going to contribute a story.

When she approached me about the project, all I could think of was a monster-hunting romcom. It was an excuse to combine my love of pulpy monster-of-the-week procedurals with good old-fashioned monster romance. Thus, Dorian Villeneuve and Cash Leroy were born: a paranormal buddy hunter couple, consisting of a sarcastic goth vampire with an emotional support Chihuahua and a good-natured country boy who stanned for Stevie Nicks.

With Alex’s blessing, I wrote ‘Leather and Lace,’ my tongue-in-cheek spin on Supernatural through the lens of Dean Winchester and Castiel getting together and hunting a family of murderous weredeer.

(It isn’t find-replace Supernatural fanfiction, for the record. A few jokes were floated on Twitter, but any similarities to the show are purely the product of genre conceit and love of monster-hunting tropes.)

Twisted Romance #1 arrived in February 2018, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The series showcased some of comics’ most innovative and interesting creators. Alex collaborated on comics with artists Katie Skelly Trungles, Alejandra Gutierrez, and Carla Speed McNeil. The prose selection featured me and comics writer Vita Ayala, and there were several comics shorts by Meredith McClaren, Sarah Horrocks, Margaret Trauth, and Sarah Winifred Searle. It was later collected in a trade paperback, with a cool variant cover for Books Kinokuniya.

(As I understood it, we were pretty popular in Japan.)

Our little anthology went on to garner some critical acclaim and a fair bit of commercial success. It even earned a few award nominations, including an Eisner Award nod at San Diego ComicCon. In the end, I felt rather good about what I did for that project. I decided that would be the end of Dorian Villeneuve and Cash Leroy while I went on to work on other paranormal romance projects.

As you can see, that didn’t happen.

After the short story came out, I was surprised to find the characters and their story so well-received. Romance and non-romance readers alike told me how much they enjoyed it and that the characters resonated with them. I was enamored with the quirky little world I made and grateful that so many people had found such enjoyment in it. That so many people liked these characters and want to know more about their relationship, pasts, and future together.

It’s now January 2021 at the time of writing this. Since their first appearance, Dorian and Cash have become the characters I’m best known for and the characters I’ve come to love the most. I’ve written some thirty short stories about their romantic exploits, self-published three themed collections, and completed two novels in a planned series.

Leather and Lace: Book One of the Southern Gothic Series is the full-length adaptation of the story that started it all. It takes the basic premise of the short story—a vampire, a hunter, a pair of man-eaters, and a partnership-turned-romance—and builds it into a sprawling world of monsters and mayhem. The characters have changed considerably during adaptation, becoming deeper, more nuanced versions of themselves with fully developed backstories.

Dorian is still a sarcastic goth who feels uneasy about hunting monsters, but the anxieties he compensates for are rooted in a lifetime of misfortune on the streets of the vampire slum. Cash is still a good-natured boy from East Texas, but his quirks are grounded in complicated family history as the heir of a prominent hunting dynasty. They each fill a need for trust and friendship in each other’s lives and provide a foundation of earnest care that their romantic relationship will continue to build upon. The monsters they hunt are also far more complex than their short story counterparts and help develop a morally gray world where monsters and hunters operate in the margins of polite society.

The book is a monster-hunting romcom, a paranormal procedural adventure, a campy horror-fantasy romp, and a romance about two friends who shouldn’t have fallen in love but did. It’s also a labor of love, which wouldn’t exist without Alex and the small but vocal readership I’ve found believing in me and in these characters. From drafting a story for a friend to putting out a novel about two characters I deeply love, the road that brought me to this point has been long.

I can only hope that I do them justice.

Leather and Lace 
(Southern Gothic Series, #1)
by Magen Cubed
February 16th 2021
Genres: Adult, LGBTQ+, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Falling in love with a vampire bites—and sometimes loving a human bites back.

Dorian Villeneuve is an unlucky vampire from the slums of Devil’s Row. He makes ends meet for himself and his emotional support Chihuahua by working sleazy bars and nightclubs, doing what it takes to get by. Cash Leroy is a monster hunter from East Texas with a golden voice and an unrivaled devotion to Stevie Nicks. Hunting does not leave time for friends, let alone love.

When their paths cross during a bloody run-in with the vampire mob, Cash upends Dorian’s life—and takes Dorian under his wing to teach how to hunt monsters.

The unlikely pair become partners, and soon, best friends. However, their deepening bond grows complicated when Dorian falls in love with Cash. Their friendship is too important to throw away over an interspecies attraction, especially in a career that is already nasty, brutish, and short.

And things become even more complicated when Cash finds himself returning the vampire’s affections.

When an unusually deadly case lands in the hunters’ laps, their ill-fated affair takes a backseat. A pair of man-eating weredeer are on the loose taking victims’ hearts. With the pressure on to end the killing spree, Dorian and Cash must set aside their feelings and hunt down the blood-thirsty deer.

Can Dorian and Cash’s friendship survive this monstrous romance, or will they lose their hearts in the process?

Excerpt 1
Cash Leroy could have been a singer but killing paid the bills. He stood at the karaoke machine and bathed in the pink neon spotlight, every inch of him painted in a dusky glow. Mic in hand, he commanded his favorite booth with lowered eyes, splinters of light catching in his fallen lashes as they fluttered against his stubbled cheeks. His voice hit the high notes of 'Outside the Rain' in a velvety dither that belied his smoky drawl and taste for Pall Mall cigarettes. In a depth of sound so full, it overshadowed the shrill karaoke track.

Here, on most nights and nearly every weekend, Cash sang Stevie Nicks songs and only Stevie Nicks songs. This was his ritual for the eight months that Dorian knew Cash, but it went well beyond their partnership. Cash was a man of singular interest, and no one else loved Stevie Nicks like he did.

The hunter cradled the mic between strong hands, his booted foot keeping time as he swayed to the music. Onstage, he seemed like a different man from the one Dorian knew the rest of the day. Singing straightened his slouched posture as his voice overtook the room. The stage broke Cash's even temperament and replaced it with a showman's presence as he performed for his preferred audience of one. Even the flecks of blood on the collar of his shirt disappeared into the neon. Everything else about Cash seemed to fall away whenever he opened his mouth to sing.

And Dorian, despite his best efforts, was in love with Cash.

Dorian nursed his second beer of the night on the modular pink loveseat across from the karaoke machine. He tried not to watch Cash as closely as he did. It was hard not to watch Cash in all things, both on the stage and off it. Dorian fought to keep his gaze from wandering over Cash's strong legs in his beat-up blue jeans. The vampire fought harder to avoid staring at Cash's neck, mouth, and sweep of his dark lashes as he sang.

Because Cash was Dorian's best friend, roommate, and partner. He didn't want to be in love with Cash. Loving Cash made Dorian's life complicated and scary. It put an ache deep inside the vampire's rib cage, choking on glass whenever the feeling threatened to claw its way out of his throat. Choking it down because they could never be together.

But sitting in a karaoke booth, watching Cash sing, Dorian loved Cash anyway.

About the Author:
Magen Cubed is an Eisner-nominated writer, essayist, and occasional critic, best known for her queer monster-hunting urban fantasy/paranormal romance series SOUTHERN GOTHIC. She has appeared in the critically acclaimed TWISTED ROMANCE comics anthology from Image Comics and has bylines on the award-winning Women Write About Comics. Magen lives in Florida with her girlfriend Melissa and a little dog named Cecil.

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