Thursday, March 23, 2017

Author Of The Month - Angel Martinez - Grand Finale

Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the super awesome 

In our final post, we're talking about the AURA books, co-written with Bellora Quinn, and ask Angel a bunch of questions. Also, all the way at the bottom, is one more chance to win!

First up, Quinn's Gambit


An unregistered, human con wizard and a duty-bound, straightlaced elf cop. As New York explodes with dangerous creatures, their passion goes nuclear.

After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities—all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called RARE—Random Anomalous Reality Events—have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA—the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation—to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.

Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn't the easiest city to make a living. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically-induced luck, he works as a ‘free-lance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small time con—according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn't expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.

Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.


The AURA recruiters had tested him when he was still in school, but Quinn had deliberately flubbed everything. As far as they were concerned, he had the barest trace of latent magical ability, not much more than being able to sense energy and maybe have a precognitive dream or two. Flunking out of the AURA recruitment had meant that he had no real training, but Quinn got by with what he had learned on his own.
Like that afternoon, those people he’d ‘saved’ from the ‘troll’ didn’t know the difference between a glow spell and a fireball, which was good for business, such as it was. At least he’d made enough today to put food in his belly and pay the rent that week.
Strolling along and thinking happily of stopping in at Mike’s to treat himself to a good dinner, he didn’t have any warning before the naked girl fell out of the sky and knocked him flat.
Quinn sprawled face first in the dirt, his arms outstretched, and one hand still clutching his staff. He’d barely managed to push himself halfway up when the naked girl started to scream, only it didn’t sound like any scream Quinn had ever heard before. It was a wail of piercing agony that reached down and tore at his insides.
The girl rolled off him and flailed around on the ground, still screaming that ear-splitting, terrified wail.
Quinn clamped his hands over his ears. “Stop! Jesus! Stop that!” he yelled, trying to get to his feet. To his surprise, the girl did as he told her, shutting her mouth and abruptly cutting off the piercing wail. Panting, Quinn got a good look at her.
Her skin was a dark brown with whorls of darker pigment over top that looked like a giant fingerprint. Or like wood grain. It matched the two short branches that poked out of the top of her head from beneath her pale blonde hair. Her eyes were blue. All blue. No white, no pupil, just blue. What he’d thought were leaves stuck in her hair appeared to be an actual part of her.
Slowly, Quinn lowered his hands from his ears. “Okay… Okay, now just calm down.”
The naked girl made small, helpless sounds that sounded eerily like a mournful wind blowing through creaking branches.
“What…? What are you, huh?” he asked, rubbing the back of his head and not really expecting an answer. “Some kinda elf maybe? Or… Hey, you’re a dryad, aren’t you?” he said, the word surfacing from some murky depth of his memory.
She stared at him, drawing her knees up to her chest and rocking, looking remarkably like a small tree swaying in the wind. Quinn chewed his bottom lip as he thought. Clearly she had just come through an Event. Okay, this isn’t a complete disaster. I’ll just leave her here and go call AURA to come pick her up. Yeah. That’s it.
“Look, just stay here, okay? I’ll go get you help. Comprende? Stay. Here.” He gestured with his hands and spoke slowly and loudly as if he could somehow make her understand. Getting up and brushing himself off, he started to leave.
The girl got up and followed him. Quinn stopped and turned around.
“No. You stay here. Stay.” He held out his hands, then pointed at the ground. “Stay.”
He turned and took two steps. She followed.
“Aw, fuck,” he muttered. Nothing could ever be easy. It was going to be rather conspicuous walking down Ninety-Sixth Street with a naked tree girl following him.
“Okay, okay, fine, c’mon then.” He sighed, figuring he might as well just take her to the AURA building, since it was so close.

The girl…dryad, whatever, followed him and Quinn headed toward AURA headquarters.

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Second in this series, Flax's Pursuit


A murderer haunts the city, turning the unwary to stone. Between hunting this evil and corralling new arrivals, Flax struggles to guard both his life and his heart.

Quinn and Valerian have come through the trials of facing an undead lich queen and the perils of falling in love. Now they work to restore AURA to its previous strength and efficiency while navigating their new life with each other. Fortunately, they’re not in this alone.

Kai Hiltas has taken over as the head of the research department at AURA and has become everyone’s favourite workaholic, everyone except his lover Tenzin, who has had enough of his late nights and broken promises. As Kai tries to salvage his relationship, he finds a teacher for Quinn, who also happens to be one of Valerian’s new officers, Flax Wolfheart, a sexy elf with trouble written all over him.

Flax has motives beyond simply teaching Quinn to control his magic. He’s trying to recover from his own losses and failures, but he has a plan. The two newest elvish crossovers, Ash and Sage, are sizzling hot and might even like him. With them as backup as he tracks a deadly stone mage and figures out how to teach Quinn, Flax sees his chance to impress Val and snag a place by his captain’s side. On the hunt for both danger and redemption, Flax’s pursuit leads him ultimately down trails he never expected.


The weird stuff always happens when you’re picking up extra shifts. Officer Flax Wolfheart hurried down the street, following the high-pitched brownie laughter. Five of them had broken into a bakery after hours. The bakery assistant said they’d stolen the final bank deposit and everything from the day-old rack.
“I have visual. Pursuing on foot.” Flax spoke into his radio as he broke into a sprint. The suspects had ducked into an alley, probably hoping to vanish.
The radio crackled, dispatch answering, “Officer Wolfheart, backup’s on the way. Maintain open channel. Location updates.”
“As you wish,” Flax muttered, not exactly by the book, but fuck it. He skidded around the corner just in time. The last little brownie culprit was phasing through the bricks of the building to the left, pointed ears swiveling—large, dark eyes already dilated from the sugar high.
That was the problem human police officers had tracking brownies. The little shits could walk through walls, which was how they broke into establishments in the first place. Flax bared his teeth in a feral grin. Good thing he wasn’t a human police officer. He could still sense their magic trail through the building, and while he couldn’t go through the wall, he could still follow.
“Going on the roof. Same street, dispatch. Looks like we’re going building to building.”
“Damn it, Wolfheart. Your backup can’t follow you that way.”
The exasperated tone made him grin. “There are reasons why I work alone, you know.”
Flax leaped and caught hold, jamming fingers and boot toes in the joinings between bricks so he could scale up to the roof. The little creeps’ trails rambled through the building under his feet until they emerged out the other side. Giggling and tripping over each other, the sugar high as bad as meth for humans, the brownies raced across the next alley. Rail thin, the pack of them, none more than a few inches taller than the trash cans they used as cover, Flax felt a momentary twinge.
Kids. They’re damn brownie kids and if they’re not homeless, I’ll eat my badge.
He waited until they had phased through the wall before he took two running steps and vaulted to the building they had entered. An old, rebellious part of him wanted to let them go. They were just kids. But he had his duty as an AURA officer and part of that duty was getting delinquent brownie kids off the street, hopefully to the help they needed.
His new life wasn’t so different from his old in many ways. Duty. Tenacity. The hunt. The solitude. AURA made exceptions for certain talents. Really, AURA was one big mess of exceptions, so they let Flax hunt alone. It was what he did best and how it had always been. The elven hunter on the edge of civilization, he accepted that—most of the time.

The brownies were meandering through the building below his feet, so he cast about the rooftop for anything he could use. One brownie kid he could corner and slap iron cuffs on to prevent more phasing. Five? Even he had his limits.

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And, so far, third in this series, Kellen's Awakening


The staff at AURA has had a busy summer. Between chronic understaffing, dealing with warring goblin factions and an unusual number of hazardous Events, everyone is overworked. Sinistrus the incubus, newly hired as an AURA medic, actually enjoys his busy new life of responsible employee and faithful lover to his gorgeous police sergeant, Ness the centaur. Life would be perfect, except for a niggling suspicion about a colleague. Everyone else seems to disagree, but Sin’s certain something’s not right with that pixie.

Kellen, a pixie crossover, loves his job working in AURA medical, even if he is something of an outsider. His job and the friends he manages to make are happy spots in an otherwise dark and secretive life. As the rest of AURA tries to discover the root of the inexplicable rise in violence and large scale Events, Kellen fights to preserve his own life and what dignity he has left.

These two unlikely heroes must put their differences aside and navigate tragedy and ever-escalating disaster together in order to stop the sinister forces that hold Kellen in thrall.

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Our Q&A with Angel:

  1. What inspires you? What gets you writing?

Deadlines get me writing? In all seriousness, I do work better to a deadline. If I know someone's waiting, that I've made a commitment, it puts my feet to the fire. Confession: I have a deeply ingrained fear of being seen as unreliable, so this only makes sense.

As for what inspires me? Yes. Everything. Dreams, conversations, a glimpse of someone on the street, science articles, books, movies, the last orange in the fridge, the neighbor's dog. The brain is a strange and wonderful thing and often leaves the writer in the helpless throes of a sudden neural storm. Attack plot bunnies are real and sometimes dangerous. I keep treats for them under the desk to encourage them to wait their turn.

  1. What's your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes, complex spreadsheets?

When I first started writing novel length works a couple of decades ago, I wrote everything longhand in spiral-bound notebooks, then typed everything up chapter by chapter in whatever primitive word processing program we had at the time. There are studies that show you do use different parts of your brain writing longhand, but the benefits are far outweighed by the sheer time of writing an entire first draft twice. Um, I don't do that anymore.

I still have notebooks, though, and have graduated to nicer, hardcover ones for notes. My process goes something like this:

  • Idea/premise gets a spot in the notebook with working title (subject to change)
  • Notes on characters go below this – who, what, motivations
  • Early ideas for major conflict come next along with questions to myself about conflict and resolution
  • Sometimes notes on subplot things that have decided they need to be included
  • Often this sits for a bit, since planning often occurs while I'm in the midst of actually writing something else.
  • Finally, I draw a plot arc. Yes. I draw an actual arc and start putting major plot points along it. This works better for me than an outline would – this visual representation of where the characters are in the journey and how much still has to happen before the climax. I dunno why. It just does.
  • Write. Mostly in a linear fashion. Usually.

  1. Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?

You do know this isn't a fair question to ask authors, right? My favorite tends to be the one I'm writing at the time since I'm residing in that character's head. That said I do have a huge soft spot for Julian Parallax, secret agent/government-sanctioned assassin, transman, and general rogue. He's confident rather than arrogant, supremely competent at what he does, and amazingly adaptable while keeping his dry sense of humor. What's not to like?

  1. Which character is your least favorite, and why?

Oh no! You want mom to say which is her least favorite kid? Characters whom I felt could have been more complete I think bother me the most. The admiral in Gravitational Attraction comes to mind – he's one of those people who truly believes he's doing the right thing in a patriotic, humans-first sort of way, but I'm not sure I conveyed that well enough.

  1. If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?

I think I might have given Diego Sandoval a choice about his exile in the Otherworld. He still would have chosen it, his nature dictates that he needed to atone for what he did no matter how many people told him it wasn't his fault, but Danu comes across as a bit colder than I would like in the sentencing.

  1. What's next for you? What amazing book are you working on?

Active WIP's right now include:

  • Feral Dust Bunnies: Offbeat Crimes 4 – this is Officer Wolf's story, the wolf who was cursed to live as a human.
  • The Mage on the Hill – for the new Dreamspun Beyond line. Fingers crossed that I can get this right and if I do, this will be a new category romance about a reclusive mage and the desperate young man who needs him as a teacher.
  • Pack Up the Moon: Brandywine Investigations 5 – Yes, I've been working on this one for a bit. Still plugging away. This will be Charon's story.

  1. Anything else you'd like to share with your readers?

I love seeing readers in person and do try to get to some events every year. As of this posting, I will have just returned from Bishounen Con in Warwick, RI, and will be going down to Rainbow Con in Tampa in July. Hope to see you there!

More about Angel Martinez:

Angel Martinez currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

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Thanks for celebrating with us. We hope you found a few new books to put on your never-ending TBR, and learned some fun facts about this fabulous author.

Until next time, happy reading!


  1. Thanks for the post and interview. I love being reminded of books I read awhile ago and need to catch up on the series with.

    1. :D That's the nice thing about book friends - they're waiting for you when you're ready!

  2. Thanks for the interview. You have a lot going on this year.

    1. I try to have a lot going on every year ;) Keeps me out of trouble. Mostly.

  3. Thanks for the interesting interview! I love Julian Parallex too. And your new upcoming possible series sounds fantastic.

    1. Thank you! It may be a bit before I can get to it since it's no longer on deadline and I have time, but it's on the docket. ;)

  4. Such fun to learn more your writing process. I love the thought that some day your notebooks will be discovered by our ancient ancestors, and they will marvel at the worlds you created on paper!! I'm also thrilled to see one of your WIPs includes Officer Wolf's story. Looking forward to that.

  5. Thank you for sharing so much about your writing and your thoughts with us readers. I was just thinking that it's best to keep those plot bunnies well fed whilst they are waiting their turn, but remember never let them get wet or feed them after a certain time :)


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