My name is Brien Michaels and this is the Bump in the Night blog tour. Thanks for dropping by today! I’m in the company of some fantastic authors in this anthology including Laylah Hunter, Kari Gregg, Ally Blue, Peter Hansen, Heidi Belleau, and Sam Schooler. None of the ladies (or gentlemen) involved here are strangers to the editing process. And a couple of them have even been through Riptide’s arduous editing process before (some repeatedly). It was definitely a first for me, though.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been edited before. This is my seventh publication, after all. And I tend to find that the more you work with an editor, the easier (for lack of a better term) the edits become, because you and your editor start to get a better feel for each other. You aren’t holding so closely to your story, terrified that something is going to go wrong if you put it into someone else’s hands. What I love so much about my two current editors (Serena Stokes at Loose Id and Rachel Haimowitz at Riptide) is that they truly get not only my writing but also the story I’m trying to tell, sometimes even better than I do. They’ll kick my ass if necessary, but never let me put out sub-par work. Even if the story doesn’t garner the best response, it’s still going to be the best that we can possibly make it because they care just as much as I do. And I am forever indebted to both of them for that.
I’d heard legends—or perhaps a more accurate term would be horror-stories—about the Riptide editing process before I set out to be part of this anthology. And they weren’t lying. Let me tell you, when I turned this book back in after the first round of developmentals, it looked like I’d slaughtered a small baby-cow all over my poor manuscript. I was halfway tempted to tell Rachel that I didn’t know we were ritualistically sacrificing creatures for the sake of erotic horror. But I could already see the new form it was taking, and it excited me.
I don’t think I ever worked so hard on a piece before. Not only because I wanted to prove to Rachel that I was good enough to be a part of this, but also because I wanted to prove it to myself. As authors, we’re not strangers to identity crises when it comes to our writing, and let’s just say I had a fairly severe one just before going into this one.
I’ve also never changed as much as I did in this story. We changed titles, plot points, even cut an entire scene (which was definitely another first for me) but always because it served the story, and this is by far my favorite story I’ve put out to date. In fact, I love it (and all my readers) so much, I’m going to share with you all right now the scene we cut. I think it adds a whole new layer to the story and to Fromunder’s character. But be warned, it is fairly spoilery. It doesn’t give away the ending, or anything, but it does give away something that happens around the middle. So if you prefer not to read on, I totally understand. But for the rest of you…here’s the blurb, first:
When Brant’s lover is killed, he’s left with no choice but to complete one last task for his demon master Fromunder. The prize? His lover alive again. The alternative? Eternal servitude. But the stakes of this mission are higher than Brant realizes, and now he might now survive the night.
Fair warning before I continue, though, this scene is seriously dark and could possibly be offensive to some readers, so proceed with caution.
“What happened between you two?” I couldn’t help but ask. “How did he break your heart? And what sister?” Too many questions, I knew, but I’d almost died. He owed me answers, at least.
Fromunder smiled sadly and touched a tentacle to my face, and suddenly, I saw through his eyes. Felt as he felt.
Noel stood across the room, naked as the day he’d hatched, but he looked different than the Noel that Fromunder had just put to death. Similar to the form I assumed was his true one, but this skin was darker, body thicker. He had piercing blue eyes that made Fromunder weak in the knees.
“I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for today.” Noel paced the room, up and down rows of corpses in varying states of decay. The sight turned my stomach, but Fromunder didn’t seem to mind it at all. “I do know I want something fresher than this, though.” He nudged the body of a young man with his toe.
“We came here because you wanted to. If you desire fresher, then we’ll get fresher. The village isn’t far from here.”
Noel’s smile melted Fromunder’s insides. “You’d ignore your hatred for overworked meat?”
Fromunder shrugged. “I would. I could stop them before they run, if it came down to it. Their bodies wouldn’t get much of a workout if they’re standing still.”
Noel stepped through a pool of blood. Came closer until their noses nearly touched. “You’re fantastic.”
The kiss made Fromunder’s lips tingle, curled his toes.
The scene dissolved and now Fromunder was stalking down a hallway. His rage peeled the paint from the walls.
The sounds of passion grew louder in his head. He bit his tongue to keep from screaming. The element of surprise would do him well.
Fromunder threw open the door to the bedroom, and there, sprawled on the bed, lay Noel. The room reeked of sex, and the mass of tangled bodies sharing the bed with Fromunder’s lover infuriated him even more. He released his tentacles, striking down man after man. A tentacle through the brain. The heart. Up the ass and out the dick.
Fromunder’s taste buds jumped. He’d never tasted a human’s semen before. He withdrew that tendril at once and retracted it. His insides tingled as he continued to end the men until the room was empty save for him and Noel, who had taken on a human form for the night’s festivities. Fromunder couldn’t remember ever seeing anything so ugly.
“You dare?” the demon spat, training all his tentacles on the creature on the bed. “I give you everything and this is how you repay me?”
“Relax,” Noel said, wiping a bit of blood away from his face before shifting back to his true form. “It’s just sex.”
Fromunder grew hot. His tentacles glowed a faint red, and I felt certain they could melt whatever Noel’s body was made of. “Just sex? There were ten of them!”
“I wanted variety. I was going to save a couple for you.”
“I didn’t want them,” Fromunder said, teeth gritted. “I . . .”
“You’re too emotional.” Noel climbed off the bed, walked toward the closet. “I bet you can’t even feel that you missed one. I’d wondered why she ran.”
Fromunder’s senses tingled. He knew who it was a second before Noel pulled her from the closet. “Mel,” he whispered.
“He seduced me,” she said, crimson eyes downcast. She looked like a flower, pink with little splashes of yellow and purple here and there, with matching leaves instead of hair, and delicate features that would have made her stunning to anyone in their world. Why had she gone for what was his? The tentacles she usually let fly freely hung to the ground, a clear sign of shame.
“You brought my sister into this?” Fromunder’s entire body trembled, but I couldn’t tell whether it was from fury or betrayal.
“She wanted to know what it was like. I figured you wouldn’t want to show her together, so . . .”
“You sick bastard.”
Mel’s eyes pleaded with her brother. “Fromunder, please forgive me.”
“We’ll discuss it later. This is between me and my lover.”
“Later?” Noel asked, his expression confused. “Have you forgotten?”
For a moment, Fromunder had no idea what he was talking about. Then he remembered Noel’s curse: There was never a later. Noel had never abided the endless yearning from anyone but Fromunder. He killed the rest. “No!”
Noel threw her to the ground, crushed his heel into her back, reached down, and tore her head away. Fromunder’s scream froze in his throat. Noel’s jaws came apart, his entire face expanding to take Melora’s head inside. Fromunder retched, vomited as the rows of teeth started to grind.
“Now we can talk,” Noel said. He wiped at his mouth as though nothing was wrong.
Fromunder’s rage burned from him like fire. His tentacles all struck Noel at once. His shriek of agony ricocheted off the walls. I’d never heard a sound so terrible.
I blinked, and suddenly I was staring at Fromunder’s face again.
Told you it was dark. Hope you guys like it, though. Thanks for hanging out with me. I’ll be hanging around all day if anyone wants to talk about anything. Otherwise, you can find me online at: http://www.Brienmichaels.com
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a $25 Riptide Publishing gift certificate! Entries close at midnight, EST, on November 2nd, and one grand prize winner will be announced or contacted on November 3rd. Contest is valid worldwide.