Please say hello to Rory Ni Coileain and
Volyk learns very young that he has to hide what he is—oboroten’, shape-shifter—after his father is killed and skinned by a hunter, and the pack that takes in his pregnant mother is hostile to his kind. When Volyk is ordered to fight the pack’s beta to prove his fitness, but instead obeys his hormones and tries to mount him, he’s declared an abomination and forced to flee.
Ilya, too, hides a secret. Being young and gay in modern Russia is dangerous, and he knows it. But the truth eventually gets out, and his brothers lure him into the forest to kill him. They’re stopped by Volyk, who hides the mortally wounded Ilya in his den. The only way to heal the human is to turn him into an oboroten’.
Unfortunately, Ilya’s gentle nature is ill suited to the life of a wolf. But when Volyk’s old pack returns, seeking to take away Volyk’s magickal den, Ilya will have to embrace – truly become – the wolf Volyk made him, to save both his mate’s life and his own.
And the angel said unto them, be not afraid…
Ilya was not afraid. Enraptured, yes. Entranced. But not afraid. He had been ready for death when he closed his eyes in the wolf’s embrace. Instead, he was whole, and awake, and in the arms of a man more handsome than any angel. Volyk’s long thick hair was the brown and gray of the wolf’s pelt, his cheekbones angular, his lips full. And his eyes were the same beautiful fiery amber as the wolf’s.
Maybe he had only dreamed the wolf. Or maybe he was still dreaming. Surely he had done nothing in his life to earn the gift this moment would be if it were real.
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We had a chance to ask Rory a few questions...
- Was there a basis for your story? A previous experience or something else?
A lot of things came together in this story – the two biggest components, I think, were my love of Russian folk tales and my strong desire to say something about the persecution of LGBT people in Russia. It’s a heartbreak, and an outrage, and I needed to write someone rising above it to live and love in the freedom he was entitled to. (whoops, did I just give away the ending? *winks*)
- What skills do you think a writer needs?
A writer needs to be a reader – no, more than that, a writer needs to be a sponge. Your own stories come from inside yourself, true, but part of what’s inside you is all the stories you’ve ever read.
- What for you is the perfect book hero?
I don’t like perfection much… my ‘perfect’ book hero would be one who’s convinced the life he longs for is out of his reach, and spends the book learning how wrong he is. He can come from pretty much any walk of life, be any age, any race… my work-in-progress involves a demisexual Fae who’s lived alone his entire life, an amputee Marine Vietnam veteran, and a comatose French-Canadian muscle bear. And I’m in love with all three of them.
- Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My own sense of perfectionism. If I could figure out how to amputate it, I would.
- Tell us about your favorite childhood book.
I could never pick just one – I was an omnivorous reader. I had very overprotective parents, but eventually they realized they had to let me go to the library alone, or they’d be driving me there almost every day. But I do remember loving the Doctor Dolittle series, by Hugh Lofting. When I was in grade school, at the end of every school year there would be a period of a couple of weeks when we couldn’t check out books, because they were doing inventory. And during those weeks, I would go to the library every chance I had, and read from one of the Doctor Dolittle books until I had to go back to class. Polynesia the Parrot was at least as real to me as any human being I ever knew.
About the author:
Rory Ni Coileain majored in creative writing, back when Respectable Colleges didn’t offer such a major. She had to design it herself, at a university which boasted one professor willing to teach creative writing: a British surrealist who went nuts over students writing dancing bananas in the snow, but did not take well to high fantasy. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa at the age of nineteen, she sent off her first short story to an anthology that was being assembled by an author she idolized, and received one of those rejection letters that puts therapists’ kids through college. For the next thirty years or so she found other things to do, such as going to law school, ballet dancing (at more or less the same time), volunteering as a lawyer with Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and nightclub singing, until her stories started whispering to her. Currently, she’s a lawyer and a legal editor; the proud mother of a budding filmmaker; and is busily wedding her love of myth and legend to her passion for m/m romance. She is a three-time Rainbow Award finalist.
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