Poppy’s Pick: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford

This month’s Poppy’s Pick is the amazing Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford.  If you’ve been searching for a gritty Urban Fantasy with detailed world building and well-developed characters, look no further! Notice that this book is labeled as an Urban Fantasy, and not a Paranormal Romance. The difference is distinct, especially in this case. Rhys has created a world where the romance comes a distant second to the breathtaking plot.

In order to get more info on this incredible read, I sweet talked none other than the author herself, Rhys Ford into dropping by and answering a few questions!
Welcome Rhys!

First off, I’d like to talk to you about your main character Kai Gracen. Kai is one of the most deeply flawed characters I’ve read in a long time. He’s a true anti-hero, the “bad” guy with a heart of gold. And Kai has more secrets than a teenage girl’s diary! Can you tell us a little about how Kai came to be, and how his character shaped the story?
First off back—Thank you for having me here! Smooches!
Ah, Kai. I love writing Kai. He’s a bit younger than the rest of my characters but he is a bit of an anti-hero. I wanted different in urban fantasy. Something rooted a bit in an alternative universe with the Gaelic mythos of sidhe but with a dash of sci-fi and magic. Kai’s a special kitten. Growly. God he’s growly but at the same time, will do the right thing. Sorta.
I wanted to write someone who was mercenary. Because really, Kai IS that. Yes, he’s broken but he’s kind of quiet about his fears. He doesn’t admit them to other people and I needed to write it in first person so the reader knew them. He does have secrets. And secrets have been withheld from him. So all in all, it’ll be a good ride.
He is unapologetically bisexual. That was important but doesn’t define him. He has a good heart but kinda rough in manners. Very visceral character. In a lot of ways, his personality matches the world.
I mentioned in my intro that this story is labeled as an Urban Fantasy. Did you begin the novel with that category distinction in mind, or did it develop more organically as the story progressed?
Oh yes, when I sat down to write Kai, I KNEW it was going to be urban fantasy. It is structured that way and really, a hell of a lot of fun to write in that genre. Different rules but still, great fun.
I’m curious as to how much of the world-building is “real” and how much is from your mind. By that, I mean how much of the world and characters you created are based on actual Fae legends and how much did you create out of your own imagination? (What I really want to know is do those creepy sauce Black Dogs exist in myth? *shivers*)
The black dogs were kind of based on the Wild Hunt. I mingled and mix some of the Gaelic world into the “normal” world. I need logic-based creations, even in magic. It has to make sense. There just can’t be MAGIC. So, the world building took a bit. Nothing could be too crazy and Kai’s not suddenly going to get power-ups. Chances are, he’s going to remain wholly unmagical because his very existence is unnatural.
As the series goes on, we’ll see more Gaelic/Celtic creatures as well as Earth-based mutations and manifestations.
Early in the story, we meet the character of Dempsey who won Kai in a poker game and subsequently raised him to be a Stalker (a monster hunter).  Dempsey sent cold chills down my spine. Can you tell us a little more about his character and the role he plays in the story?
Ah, Dempsey. He’s a cold son of a bitch. He really is the foundation of Kai’s upbringing. Dempsey is NOT a nice person. Very selfish and callous. For whatever reason, he took Kai in and well, now Kai’s the product of that upbringing.
Signs of Dempsey are definitely in Kai’s personality although his base nature is more generous. Dempsey’s role hasn’t been explored yet. *grins*
In this world, the Fae and human worlds have collided in a violent Merge where monsters and creatures of legend walk the Earth. It’s a dark and bloody place! So what came first: Kai or the idea for a merged world?
Wow. Hard question. I think Kai first then the WHY of Kai. I knew it was going to be a merge of some sort. The idea sprang from that.
In a lot of ways, Kai embodies the world itself. A mélange of characteristics and ethnicities. A bit violent. A bit bloody. With a spot of beauty when you least expect it.
I can’t talk about this book without mentioning the rest of the supporting cast. Kai certainly has a colorful group of contacts in this world. In particular, Ryder, the sidhe lord who hires Kai for what may be his most difficult hunt ever.  Ryder seems to have quite a few secrets of his own. What secrets can you tell us about Ryder and his role in the story?
Ryder really comes from a very political world. Now the Sidhe are very physical with one another—hell look at his cousin. Kai is very NO DO NOT TOUCH ME! So the reader’s perception of Ryder really coloured by Kai’s experiences. He distrusts the casual affection. That’s not a part of who he is. And he’s not really been exposed to the REAL sidhe or unsidhe cultures so he doesn’t really know who his people really are.
Of course so far of the people he’s met, he’s not all that impressed. *laughs*
Okay, I’ll stop there before I give away all the secrets of Black Dog Blues. How about I get a few on you instead? *g*
Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Shit, I dunno. I’m just me. Um… I was born and raised in Hawai’i. I come from a multi-cultural background and I roamed a lot. I am insatiably curious. INSATIABLY. Really. I love watching the oddest history or science shows. Murder shows are great. I like the inane. I read everything. I cook. Um… hell, I have no idea. I just like exploring the world and people in it.
If we were to look around the desk where you sit to write, what would we find there?
Sleeping dogs, a fat black and white cat, coffee cup and music. LOTS of music. I tend to write in the morning. In my living room. The house is usually quiet unless my fool broken cairn is having a spaz day. Art. I have a LOT of art on the wall.
How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
My sense of humour is off. Just a step from something. I’m a geek or nerd. Geek really I suppose but without all that chicken head biting thing. A lot of things make me laugh. From Castiel being confused to farting dinosaurs. Really. Sometimes it’s like having a five year old in my head.
I FULLY intend to watch Ghost Shark in a bit.
Of course I thought Angel Heart was hilarious. So, you can deduct what you like from that.
When you have the chance to sit down and enjoy some quiet reading time, what sorts of books are you most likely to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?
Damn. I read… everything. It depends on my mood. I also don’t read M/M if I’m in the middle of a book I’m writing. No influences. Mysteries, historical romances, urban fantasy. Sci-Fi is good if it’s character driven. Hell.
Authors? Dude, I’m going to get into so much trouble there. I’m going to start with Josh Lanyon and spew out. Really. Mary Calmes does her thing brilliantly. I love Amy’s happy books. Clear Water. Love that book. Heh. Your Magic series rocks. Jacob Flores is brilliant. Charlie Cochrane, Rowan Speedwell’s Kindred Hearts—LOVE. My brain! Britta Adams. Seriously, so much trouble. Piper Vaughn’s got some kick ass stuff. SE Jakes, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles.
John Preston. Lynn Flewelling, Gael Baudino, Karin Lowachee (GOD YES), Lynn Abbey’s Dancers of Arun. Jennifer Estep. Jeri Smith-Ready. Nancy Walker.
Fucking hell, just hit up my Facebook friends list. I stalk everyone good 😀 I STALKER GOOD!
I’m like leaving off three-quarters of the people I’d want to include.
Really, people do their things right. I read for THAT particular thing.
Do you have an all-time favorite fictional character?
OOOOOOsh. Um, the White Queen from Alice in Wonderland. Also Bill the lizard from the same series.
Gaet from Courtship Rite.
Flinx and Pip.
Han Solo. Nom. Really. Han Solo. *nods*
Captain Mal Reynolds.
Dean Winchester
Who are your latest crushes (celebrity, book character, or otherwise)? Do you ever keep those people in your mind when writing your own works?
Crushes? Young Harrison Ford. Um… Kim Jaejoong? Shit, Too many. Thor! Love that character in the movies. Namor! In the comics. Elric. Love Elric. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. Captain Jack!
I don’t really keep them in mind per se. I think I like certain bits of archetypes and try to keep those in mind. Love the bad boys. 😀
What are your favorite TV shows?
Ooooooh, hard one too. Supernatural. Justified. Anything with bloody investigation forensics. Cooking shows. Firefly. Perception. Sherlock! Nom Yes. Hannibal. City Hunter. Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Coffee Prince. Faith.
 I can’t wait for The Heirs with Lee Min Ho.
What is your favorite meal?
Dude. Really? Hell… 梅菜扣肉. I could eat that all day. It’s um…. Braised pork belly with preserved vegetables. Beef chow fun dry style. Lau-lau and rice. Carne Asada fries. Kal-bi. Purple rice. Spam musubi. All depends on my mood. 😀 Shoyu egg! Miso ramen!
Thank you for having me along. I hope I answered everything you wanted. And really, so much love for this opportunity. We have to exchange spots! And we shall! Wooooot! Can’t wait to read Wild Magic.

Thanks, love!

You’re welcome! Can’t wait for our spot exchange. LOL
More about Rhys:
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.
Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats, a black Pomeranian puffball, a bonsai wolfhound, and a ginger cairn terrorist.
Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffee maker.
But mostly to the coffee maker.
You can find Rhys on her website and Black Dog Blues is available from Amazon HERE

Coming Soon: Wild Magic

I’m so excited to announce that Wild Magic, spin-off to the Triad series, is now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press!

Blurb:

Joseph Anderson was heartbroken when his childhood best friend Dominick Levent moved away. Years later, Joseph is a successful real estate broker with good friends, an easy smile, and a stunning house. When he finds a dying mountain lion who miraculously shifts into Dominick’s sister, Joseph must find Dominick and reunite him with the two young sons she left behind.

When mountain lion shifter Dominick gets a call telling him his sister is dead, he rushes home to protect his nephews and avenge his sister. Seeing Joseph brings back the feelings Dominick tried to bury and he dares to hope Joseph’s newfound knowledge of shifters means they can finally be together.

Pre-order yours from Dreamspinner Press! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4209

Suit Up Sunday: Chad Allen

Next up in my 80’s flashback series of Suit Up Sunday, is teen heartthrob Chad Allen. True confession time: I had so many pictures of this guy hanging on my bedroom wall. Seriously. If he was in Tiger Beat or whatever magazine for tweens was on the shelf, I had to have it. Sigh. I had such a crush on him!

It all started wen I first saw Chad on the TV show “Our House”. See, my mom had watched Days of Our Lives for years with Deidre Hall. Well, when mom found out Deidre was going to be on a new show, we had to watch it.

And so began my teenage crush!

Chad was on several other shows over the years (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman comes to mind…Cowboy!Chad…YES PLEASE!)

It didn’t hurt at all that Chad just happens to be my age! We sort of grew up together in a way.

And boy howdy did he ever grow up nicely!

These days, Chad Allen is out as a gay man and plays many gay roles. He even played a gay character on General Hospital: Night Shift (and some of you know how much I love me some GH!).

So who was your tweenage crush? Which Tiger Beat pictures did you carefully tear out and tape to your bedroom wall?

Come on….you can tell me. 🙂

Suit Up Sunday: Breakfast Club

In this week’s 80’s flashback episode of Suit Up Sunday, I’m featuring the boys from the Breakfast Club. Oh the days of John Hughes movies…and this one is still one of my favorites *gulp* almost 30 years later. So let’s have a look at the Breakfast Club boys then and now.

First up, Emilio Estevez as the popular jock, Andrew. You know, you have to love to hate him in some ways. But I guess that’s how it works in these kinds of movies, huh?

I had to chuckle looking back at the pictures though. Hoodies were even in style in the 80’s. He he he. (Ahem…it makes me think of Stiles….and Teen Wolf…and Sterek…but I digress…)

So these days, Emilio looks more like this: 

Moving on, we’ve got to talk about the 80’s favorite Geek, Anthony Michael Hall. I think every girl from the 80’s has a soft spot in their heart for AMH. I mean, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science…classics! But my favorite of his performances was as Brian in The Breakfast Club.

His narration of the letter at the end….serious love on my part.

So where is he now?
Yeah…somebody isn’t a geek any more!!!!

And finally….last but certainly not least….

John Bender, played by Judd Nelson. Man, I never wanted to give a guy an earring so bad in my life…..yeah, those of you who’ve seen the movie know exactly what I mean by that, doncha? he he he

So the resident bad boy grew up too.

So there they are. The boys of the Breakfast Club, then and now.

Sigh.

I think I’m going to have to watch the movie again, how about you?

So what was your favorite 80’s movie??

And I’ll leave you with this, the iconic dance scene in the movie.

Suit Up Sunday: Jon Bon Jovi

For this month’s Suit Up Sunday posts, I’m doing an 80’s flashback month! I was a tween in the 80’s (way to date yourself there self…) and love going back and remembering the things that had me squeeing all over the place. Throughout August, I’ll be sharing which 80’s stars were plastered in posters all over my bedroom walls!

The first…whoa. Jon Bon Jovi.

Yeah. I think it was a combination of the hair and the cheekbones. Okay, who am I kidding. It was totally the hair. Tween Me didn’t know anything about cheekbones.

And his voice….yeah. Slippery When Wet was one of the first albums I ever owned. I played it over and over and over and…you get the point.

Best part about JBJ? He’s aged *really* well.

Like…yeah. How did he do that exactly? He should bottle it.

*swoons*

There aren’t a lot of 80’s musicians I still listen to regularly, but Bon Jovi is definitely one of them.

It’s not *all* because I like to look at Jon and listen to his voice…but yeah, that’s a lot of it.

And just to keep things all “legal-like”, here he is in a suit.

Yeah. He’s awesome.

So tell me, who did you have plastered all over your walls when you were a tween? Come on. Tell your Poppy. I need to know these things! 

And as a bonus, here’s one of those Bon Jovi songs I always crank up and sing at the top of my lungs. In fact, you should probably be thankful that you aren’t at my house right now…cause I’m totally singing right now!

Suit Up Sunday: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I must give credit where credit is due for this week’s Suit Up Sunday inspiration. Back in May, I interviewed Cardeno C about the Mates series. Cardeno confessed to a celebrity crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I found myself intrigued.

I got my Google-fu on and discovered some really inspiring suit pics of Cardeno’s crush!

But it went further than that…because I’m pretty sure this adorable fella can have entire conversations with his eyebrows.

Yep. Conversations. Which I then had to imagine, because I’m just that dorky. Don’t judge me.

It went something like this:

Poppy: Dude, you have conversations with your eyebrows. That’s a pretty spectacular talent.

Imaginary Joseph: Oh really. Has anyone ever told you that you’re weird?

Poppy: Um, no comment. But seriously, you convey things…with your eyebrows. How exactly does that work?

Imaginary Joseph: *headscratch* I have no idea how to answer that question.

Poppy: Sigh. Well, I suppose you don’t have to answer. I mean, it’s clear that you have this extraordinary talent. I’ve witnessed it first hand through my Google search. You can’t deny it!

Imaginary Joseph: Can someone get me out of here? This crazy person is obsessing about my eyebrows and I think I need to escape before the conversation goes any further!

Poppy: No, no! Don’t leave yet! I haven’t shown your eyebrow smiley smirk yet!

Imaginary Joseph: Eyebrow smiley smirk? I think I need to patent that phrase.

Poppy: Please do! Cause it’s adorable! Just like you are!

Suit Up Sunday: Ed Sheeran

Normally for Suit Up Sunday, I post pics of sexy shirtless hunks. This week’s post features a guy who is sexy on an entirely new level: the adorable ginger singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran.

I sincerely hope you all know who Ed Sheeran is. If not, go to youtube immediately. I insist! His voice is just…yeah. And his songs are beautiful. *swoons*

I’d go on and on about how cute he is but, well, I really think you just need to experience the awesome that is Ed by listening rather than looking!

So clicky the awesome video below and have a listen to my favorite Ed song.

Suit Up Sunday: Chris Evans

Chris Evans
He could save me any day…

In honor of this month’s Independence Day celebration, I couldn’t think of a better nominee for Suit Up Sunday than Captain America himself, Chris Evans.

Does suiting up as Captain America count as a suit? Hmm. The things I ponder. It’s a tough job. No really.

I’d hate to break my own rules for Suit Up Sunday so I suppose I should post him in a suit as well. You know. Just to follow the rules. Not because he looks amazing in a suit. No. That’s not it at all.

(I’m such a liar…it’s totally because he looks amazing in a suit too.)

Chris Evans Suit

I mean, when he’s all clean-shaven and sexy as Captain America…yeah. That works.

But the scruffy sultry thing he’s got going on in the suit and tie?

Drool city.

And as if that wasn’t enough, then we have him sans suit. You know, just because I want to make sure you have a well-rounded selection. Yep. That’s the reason.

I only have one thing to say about this…

Oh Captain, My Captain!

Suit Up Sunday: Isaac Lahey (aka Daniel Sharman)

Isaac Lahey, Teen Wolf
In a suit, just to be official-like

It’s time again for another edition of Suit Up Sunday, in which I drool over whichever fella has caught my attention this week. And boy has Isaac on Teen Wolf caught my fancy lately.

I must admit that my Sterek obsession kept poor Isaac in the background for a while. I know, I know. I’ve been missing out. I mean, Isaac has been one of my favorites for a while, because gah do I have a thing for the poor kicked puppy.

And Isaac gets kicked. A lot. And he has puppy face and puppy eyes and OMG I just need to hug him so hard. He needs snuggles! I promise. Lots of snuggles.

And then I saw the reap of Unleashed on tv.com. Did you see it? No? Go here and look. You’ll laugh hysterically and start using new terms like “twunk” in daily conversation. It’s a thing.

The lovely author of that post pointed out that Isaac is like the statue of David come to life.

Um. Yeah. He kinda is. Proof:
I see the resemblance.

And tv.com also posted an incredible gif of one of my favorite moments from the episode. Yep. Didn’t mind that at all.

*ahem* Where was I? Right. Isaac. (And Danny…because DAMN Danny. I sense another Suit Up Sunday inspiration…)

So yeah. Isaac. Kicked puppy with puppy eyes. Really adorable. And werewolfy. *nods* Works for me.

Poppy’s Pick: The Bones Series by Kim Fielding

Welcome to the second edition of Poppy’s Pick! I’m often asked by friends for recommendations of gay paranormal romance novels, so I decided to share ones that I love here on my blog so others could find them as well!

This week’s recommendation is The Bones Series by the lovely and talented Kim Fielding.

I absolutely love shifter books. That’s no surprise to anyone, I’m sure. I say it often and loudly. *g* I was really intrigued by the “lone wolf” aspect of Good Bones, the first book in The Bones Series.

Dylan is not your typical werewolf character in any way. No really. He’s not. In fact, this book reads very much like a contemporary romance, which I loved. Dylan just has one itsy bitsy little problem: he happens to be a werewolf.

With so many variations on the shifter theme out there, what really drew me into this book was how different it is from the typical shifter tropes. There isn’t a pack presence, no “I am Alpha hear me ROAR” character, and the shifter aspect is handled in a really deft and clever way.

We learn about Dylan’s “affliction” in bits and pieces. His past unfolds as Dylan continues to learn what it means to be a werewolf and we learn more about it along with him. I loved that Dylan really had no clue what he was doing! His instincts guided him, and he did his best with what has happened to him.

Then there’s Chris, Dylan’s new neighbor and love interest. Chris is an amazing character. He’s fun and atypical as well and such a great fit for Dylan. Talk about opposites!!!

Dylan and Chris work together to fix up the dilapidated old house Dylan bought in an effort to get himself out of the city and away from the possibility to hurt anyone when he changes into his wolf. I could wax poetic about it more, but really, you should just read it. It’s a really great character piece and I enjoyed it so much that I was bouncing around excitedly when I learned the second book was out and available!

 Buried Bones picks up where Good Bones left off and continues Dylan and Chris’s story. This one adds in a little twist in the form of a ghost! Now, I have to confess that I had a moment of doubt when I read that–a ghost? Really? But I should have trusted Kim! She made it work beautifully and the ghost element in this story added a richness to the world that was both exciting and heartbreaking!

The past comes back to haunt our couple–literally–and while Dylan and Chris are trying to find a way to get rid of their extra house guest, Dylan is still trying to figure out if he can really be part of a couple. What if he hurts Chris?

All in all, a fabulous series that is very different from the typical shifter stories you’ll find out there. Recommended for folks who like great character development with less focus on the paranormal aspects (but the shifter stuff is there too). I think you’ll love Dylan and Chris’s relationship as much as I did!

And as an added Bonus Pick, have you read Kim Fielding’s other novel, Brute? Now, it’s not exactly paranormal–okay, it’s not paranormal at all. It’s a fantasy but I promise you, it is worth the read paranormal fans! Brute is going to go down as one of my all-time favorite characters ever. I laughed and cried, and cried, and probably cried a little more.

I really can’t explain this one other than to say it packs a huge emotional punch. It’s really lovely and the world building is amazing. And Brute. Have I mentioned Brute?? *sigh*

All in all, I’d say if you haven’t read a Kim Fielding book, you’re really missing out! Hunt her down, buy her books, read them. You’ll become a fan too. I promise.

You can find all of these books, plus others, and information on how to track Kim down on her author page at Dreamspinner Press.

Click here to find out more.

See you all next month for another edition of Poppy’s Picks!