Monday, October 05, 2009

Jessa Slade GuestBlog: A Darker Shade Of Wicked*

CONTEST!!! 1 randomly chosen commenter scores Grand Prize: Hand-made earrings, funky note cards and 'graphed copy of "Seduced by Shadows" out Oct 6; 2 others win 'graphed copies of SBS, all courtesy of Jessa! Pls have email avail to enter.

From Michelle: You're going to remember the day you first learned about Jessa Slade's "Seduced by Shadows," if for nothing more than to be able to brag that you "read Jessa when." Her writing style is marvelously fresh and bright, yet so accessible you'll be hard pressed to decide which you're more enamored of: her storytelling or her captivating heroes and heroines. Her debut, "Seduced by Shadows," drops tomorrow. Please offer Jessa your warmest "It's so good when they're bad" Bella buongiorno...
From Jessa: Hello, Bellas! I’m so excited to be here with you – you who have suggested quite a few of the yummy heroes on my bookshelves – and share one of my favorite topics: The dark hero.

Do you ever find yourself more drawn to a story’s villain than its hero?

Er, maybe I’m revealing more about myself than is socially appropriate, but the dark side intrigues me. Not evil, mind you, although darkness is sometimes misinterpreted as evil, but the shadow side and all its constituent parts: The unconscious, the anima, the id, the reptilian brain, instinct and impulse, raw emotion. I think my interest started when I learned back in my school days that the feminine half of human duality – from mythology to psychology – is usually relegated to the shadow side.

How unfair, I fumed at the time. Why is the feminine assigned such backhanded virtues as dark, cold, hidden, void? The word choices often drift toward the words we’ve always used to describe evil. I won’t delve into an academic rehashing of the patriarchal fear of the female. I’m more interested in how the dark side plays out in romance novels.

A few shadows give a character depth and three dimensions, which is, I think, one reason why villains with their lush shadows are sometimes more memorable – Norman Bates, Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter. But how to give shadows to a hero... That’s where the quest for redemption comes in. A character unrepentant in his evil doings is a villain, but if he strives to rise above his darkness and find at least a smidgen of light, ah, now we have the makings of a hero. In a black & white photography class I took, the instructor explained how we needed a point of true white and a point of pure black to fully explore the range of gray.

And there’s so much range in a dark hero. The bad boy, the arrogant alpha, the defective detective, the rebel without a cause – all alluring archetypes of the dark hero who rules the shadow side. I suspect my endless fascination with the dark hero stems in part from the way many of the words used for him – dark, cold, animalistic, raw – echo the words used for the feminine mystique.

Maybe the dark hero is really the minimized feminine amped to the nth degree and flexing its muscles. What would those bad boys think about that?

So who is your best beloved dark hero? What was it about his shadows that made you love him more?

P.S. I found the gift cards at a local art show and they spoke to me. The earrings are freshwater pearls with a wonderfully eerie, sinuous texture to them. Demonically possessed pearls! Who wouldn’t want a pair?

Click on the collage, above left, to tour Jessa's "Seduced by Shadows" Visual Inspiration interactive collage.

*Tagline to Jessa's Marked Souls series: "In a world where evil has broken free from the shadows, only a hero cut from a darker shade of wicked stands a chance"
Thursday: RBTB contributing editor Becke Davis brings you a
pre-Bouchercon World Mystery Conference feature review!


Jessa Slade said...

Greetings to the bellas! Thank you so much for letting me come revel with you.

I should add that my very first dark hero was Han Solo. Luke was honestly more "my type" (i.e. geeky as all get out) but Han... Smart-mouthed, sexy, sweet ride... Ooh, how my heart pounded.

ev said...

Good Morning Jessa!

Harry Dresden. I just really love the character, especially when read by James Marsters. He brings that whole bad boy shady side of him to life.

And Roarke, just in case no one here mentions him. Like that would happen.

I can't wait to read your book. I hope they have it on the Sony site. LOL

Stacy~ said...

Morning Jessa :)

I think dark heroes are infinitely more intriguing because it would be so easy for them to turn completely to the dark side (Anikan anyone?) but choose not to. That doesn't mean they aren't tempted, and may walk awfully close to the edge, but don't.

I love a hero who's drawn from that edge by their love of a good woman. Both Zarek (Kenyon) and Zsadist (Ward) come to mind here. If not for Astrid and Bella, who knows where they might have ended up, and that's fascinating to me.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas! And welcome, Jessa, into the GuestBlog seat! Congrats on "Seduced by Shadows." You probably can tell that I'm pretty jazzed about your Marked Souls series and dying to read book 2. I hope you'll give us a sense of SBS today, and a little hint about what we can expect in the next book,too. I feel like a mom, or something, having you making the shift from Bella to published author. I wanna shout, "That's our Jessa! Look, isn't her cover hot?!" btw, did anyone else learn the combined question mark/exclamation point punctuation years ago? It ws hip for, like, a nanosecond when I was in, maybe, 5th or 6th grade, and I refuse to stop using it.

Anyway, I love this post today, too, how you tease us w/feminist thought, then dash it away by reminding us of what's really important: dirty, mostly evil hot guys and great jewelry.


amy kennedy said...

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I mean, I enjoy a dark hero as well. Jessa, I tried to get your book on Friday...d'oh! I'll be getting it today.

Jessa, I felt the same way when I learned what the Yin and the Yang symbolized -- the masculine, Yang: heaven, day, light, warmth and Yin: shadows, night, moon etc -- you get the picture. I thought, "What?" but then I started to like it, because everything has to be a combination of the two.

Now on to the important stuff -- some of my fave dark heroes aren't exactly heroes yet, they just haven't met the right woman...The Sherriff from Robin Hood (BBC)springs to mind.

I'll try to think of some semi-redeamed dark heroes.

amy kennedy said...

Forgive me Michelle, I should have used the question/exclamation mark after my stunned "What?" comment, I shall do that now.


Tiona said...

Hey, Bellas!A big welcome, Jessa! Beautiful earings! I want,hehe
Well, one of my all-time fave heroes is Lachlain from Kresley Cole's "A Hunger Like No Other" as well as Ethan from "If you Decieve" though I was totally in love with Judd from Nalini Singh's "Carressed By Ice" as well as Rapheal from "Angel's Blood" hehe. Gotta love it! And Tara Janzen's Steel Street boy Christian Hawkins or "Superman". Ok, apparently I could go on all day. Oh, and the bad guy's numero uno henchman in "Star Trek" Hubba Hubba on all accounts! Ok, apparently I could go on all day about these guys, but I think it's the dark, mysterious, unknown that is so appealing. You wanna know just how BAD they really are and how they got that way. And, as you said, Jessa, it does make them have more depth. You can't have light without dark.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Jessa! I'm so excited to read your book -- seems like I've been waiting forever for it to come out! I've been out of town and going through withdrawal because I didn't have computer access much of the time I was gone. Thank goodness I didn't miss your visit!

The Reading Frenzy said...

Good morning Jessica and hello fellow bellas, Happy Monday ugg.
I LOVE those battered, shadowed, slightly edgy, dark heros. My reason is because he's NOT the knight in shining armor who's come to save the damsel in distress, most likely it's the damsel that saves his dark and tortured soul.
My favs. well yeah Roarke, and of course all the Brother's in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, then there's the fallen immortals who opened Pandora's Box in Gena Showalter's series. Then there's Christine Feehan's Carpathians and even the dark heros in Laurel K Hamilton's Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series and then last but not least the very dark heros in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series.
Dark enough for you girls?
Jessica your series sounds awesome, I can't wait to get my hands on those bad boys. I want to get "Seduced by Shadows" too. ;-)


Becke Davis said...

Can't get much darker than the heroes in some of Anne Stuart's novels: Ritual Sins, Nightfall, Moonrise, etc. Love them!

amy kennedy said...

Ooooh debbie, Karen Marie Moning's Dark series -- sheesh, I still don't know who's mostly (or partly) good and who's bad(der)(dest)

And Jessa, maybe that's why we're so attracted to the dark hero, because we do see our shadow selves in him -- we're always attracted to someone like us.

Myrin said...

Buonasera, my bellas (again, I'm referring to my time here), and ciao Jessa, good to have you here.

Hm, dark heroes... Since I'm currently on a Kresley Cole-induced Immortals After Dark-trip, I would very much like to point at Bowen MacRieve, the hero of Wicked Deeds On A Winter's Night (anyone else here who thinks the titles are wonderful but who just can't remember them?). He already was introduced in the first book as the hero's cousin and them some kind of "minor" villain in the second one (because he was a competitor against the h/h in some kind of magical race).

I was intrigued by him from the very beginning and absolutely wanted to find out what exactly had happened to him. When I then started to read WDOAWN I really didn't like how he behaved (in general and towards the heroine), but still, it didn't appall me as it sometimes did in other books. I somhow understand him and could tolerate what he did, and strangely not out of sympathy because of what he'd suffered and lost but because he still had a conscience and tried to righten his wrongs. So seems to me redeemably is the key word here.

Another thing I like verrrra (imaging me purring) much - and Michelle knows that and agrees, I can tell you, tee-hee - is that dark heroes are oh-so-dark in the bedchamber ... or UATW ... or in the bathtub ... or - you know what I'm saying! Hot, hot HAWT. Another thing in the IAD-series that's absolutely my taste. All the letting-the-beast-out-of-the-cage or biting-and-sucking or growing-even-bigger(-horns, coughcough,)-during-sex just. Gets. Me. Hot.

You know how I am with panting and sweating. It's a permanent condition at the moment (well, okay, maybe not when I'm in my Maths courses, but you understand me, don't you?).

Jessa Slade said...

Fun with punctuation! My personal fave: ...?! This stands for the trailing off excited question. Sadly, I've never once snuck it by my critique partners.

Michelle, one of the elements I hope your readers get from this post (and from the book) is the joy in subverting the dominant paradigm. One of the reason I love you bellas is you HAVE faced the powers-that-be, tapped your lovely manicures on your Wet'N'Wild lip gloss, and gone your own way.

It's not enough to reject the patriarchy's definition of what's good for us (and it definitely ain't romance novels!); we're strong enough to enjoy even the parts that the matriarchy might say we're "beyond" -- a nice set of rippling abs, for example.

The grrl-power from the authors and readers gathered here is the best sort of sustainable energy. Although it's cherry pink instead of green :)

Myrin said...

Oh, with all the rambling, I forgot to say that I just looked Seduced By Shadows up on Amazon and that I found it vastly intriguing. And the cover's just sa-hexxy!

amy kennedy said...

Lisak, you sweet-talker, yes I love the way the dark hero/bad boy acts in the bedroom, and, yes, I'll have the extra bits as well.

Jessa, so true, we all understand what it is we love to fantasize about, w/o it having to come realio-trulio true in our love -lives...except, I might want some of it in real life. Just sayin' is all.

Tiona said...

LisaK, I am totally with you on Kresley Cole's IAD series! She knows how to make heroes that are just so...HAWT and definately dark and beastly, but it's so darn good. I know, those scenes and biting their mate or Bridge, just worth a double read every time, hehe. LOVE IT!

Wicked Walker said...

I love the bad guys that you don't know if they are TRULY bad or you just haven't seen much of their good side yet..perfect example: Barrons in Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series.

stacy.walker03 AT

Jessa Slade said...

love the bad guys that you don't know if they are TRULY bad or you just haven't seen much of their good side yet

Yes! One of inspirations for the world of the Marked Souls is not being sure what good and bad are. After all, are you bad if you sold your soul to a devil, but you do good things? There's just soooo much gray out there.

(My perception, of course, could be skewed because I live in the Pacific Northwest where we have perfected the many shades of gray.)

Unknown said...

Congrats on the release, Jessa!

Are you signing this weekend? ;)

Blaine & Kevin said...

Jessa - I'm just venturing into the realm of paranormal romance... I'm a virgin to the bad boy scene waiting to meet your dark hero!!!

Jill Kemerer said...

Okay, I know this is a movie, but I'll admit to not being repulsed when Jason Bourne (Bourne Identity series) was killing people right and left. I might even add that there was a slight--teensy--attraction at the sight of him breaking some guys neck. Hmmm... Bad boy? Oh,yeah. Maybe I'm a little sick, though!

Tiona said...

Jill, I think it's just how hot Matt Damon makes those movies, hehe.

throuthehaze said...

My fave dark hero is Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. He is so mysterious and you don't know what his true motives might be whether he is really good or not.
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Josie Roetemeyer said...

Your book sounds very interesting - love the concept. I love the "dark" hero - Zsadist from Black Dagger Brotherhood pops in my mind!

Anonymous said...

Jessa, Congratulations on your recent release :)

Okay, this might sound crazy, but off the top of my head, when I thought of dark heroes, I thought of Edward from the Twilight series, lol... Although, I must admit, I haven't read the books, but I loved his character in the movie *sigh*. There's just something about a tortured hero who wants to be with the one he loves, but at the same time doesn't only to protect her.

Anonymous said...

Jessa, I've been waiting FOREVER for this to come out, and I still have to wait another day. That is if it comes to the bookstore behind the Redwood Curtain.

I think my brain has been subconsciously preparing me for this release because I've been reading and watching all "dark" things for the past two weeks--including old books from the 80's that definitely mimic the male believe of the feminine as "dark, mysterious, and evil."

Now I know why I love being a woman. :)

Sarah Raplee said...

My favorite is Clay Montgomery from Brenda Novak's 'Dead' trilogy. Gotta love a hero who sacrifices everything to protect the ones he loves (and to keep a body buried behind the barn)!

Asylumgirl said...

Sherrilyn Kenyon's character Acheron is a favorite. Until she put out his book, I was always wanting more of his story and how he came to be.

deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera, Bellas! You're all scaring me. Not! I love that you go for the men w/not just dark sides, but, at times, questionable morals. I like a hero who doesn't always do the right thing, even after he's been "redeemed."

Jessa writes: One of the reason I love you bellas is you HAVE faced the powers-that-be, tapped your lovely manicures on your Wet'N'Wild lip gloss, and gone your own way.

You crack me up! Jessa, I appreciate that you've written this kind of post for us, because I do love that women come here who do just what you've described: they assess, but don't bend to the roles men or women might slap on them. Especially as we get older, we definitely live more readily in the gray, and accept or reject what's best for us.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

ev, who is thees roarke of which you speek?

hey, stace! Havent' thought of zarek in a while! You make mwe want to read him again. Do you kinda like a little if they don't always do what they're supposed to? just a little?

Ames, didn't you say the dead babies in the forest turned you off of the Sheriff? did you get past that? Was it the black leather pants?

ooo, principessa, lachlain. The marking. 'ye marked her a little hard, no?

LisaK and Principessa, I went on an Immortals After Dark BINGE about 2 weekends ago reading/re-reading the series. Oh, man, I'm so hooked. Kresley and Gena Showalter are at Center Stage this week answering questions about Dark Deeds on a Winter's Night. Those titles. I keep thinking of that old song, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap for some reason. Gorgeous covers.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Debbie, I'm shawked. I didn't realize you had this side to you. You've named the all-star team of darkness. Hmm. And you think you know someone so well...

Stace, I love your avatar. Did you get a kitty?

Welcome, Jenna!

Loffredi writes: I'm a virgin to the bad boy scene waiting to meet your dark hero!!!

I guarantee, Loffredi, you'll never forget your first time with a guy like Ferris Archer.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Jill, you bloodthirsty wench. I remember being a little transfixed by that when I walked in on my husband watching that a couple weeks ago. I just remember Jason snapping bones.

hi, throughthehaze, that danger is really elemental and exciting. There's talk now about not eroticizing fear in relationships in romance (the virgin who'll lose her rep if the rake tells everyone). I think the dark hero as you describe him isn't much different, only more modern and maybe more 'allowable' to the matriarchs Jessa spoke of earlier.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Josie, Z is my fave BDB, too. :)

Ali, that's not crazy at all! I think only about a couple million women and young girls agree with you!

Maggie, I'd love to hear what some of those flicks are...

Sarah, under the barn?! That merits the question mark/exclamation mark combo. :)

good one, ddurance. Ash definitely skews light and dark.

Barbara E. said...

I love a dark, tortured hero. I really enjoyed Gina Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series.
I'm looking forward to Seduced by Shadows, sounds like a great story.

Liz said...

My favorite Dark Hero is Feehan's Carpathians. I love all of the books . & Jessa I'm looking forward to your series

Emily S. said...

Hey Bellas!

I'm excited for the new book! I love it when new books come out.

I also often fall for the villain. There's just something about a bad boy that's intriguing. ;-) One of my favs also is Acheron, I was so excited when his book came out. Lachlain from Hunger Like no Other, and I'm planning on getting started on Feehan's Carpathians and Showalters Underworld series.

Jessa Slade said...

Black leather pants make up for a lot of sins ;) Actually, I was shocked to see the black leather pants on my hero (okay, I admit, I zoomed in veeeery close on his pants) since I hadn't described him that way in the book. In hindsight however (get it? looking at pants? hindsight?) I think the cover artists were definitely on to something.

Anonymous said...

Good Evening, Bellas,
I'm most fond of the "dark hero" who is an intriguing character in the background of several books in a series. I would be enjoying the book at hand with it's hero, all the time wondering about that other shadowed figure. What's HE all about?! That's Zsadist in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Will there be a character like that to watch among your Marked Souls,

Jessa Slade said...

Anon, I have to admit I set up my Marked Souls as a "band of brothers" because I love that smogasboard effect :) I like to move through a story and see all those tortured, angsty males and think "Hmm, who would be right for you? Which brave lady will save you?"

I have one male who particulary annoyed me as I was writing Book 1 who I did something terrible to in Book 2, but I really think it's for his own good if he ever wants to move from "male" to "hero." He hasn't thanked me yet :)

Anida Adler said...

"I have one male who particulary annoyed me as I was writing Book 1 who I did something terrible to in Book 2..."

Oh you bad woman... but it's fun, I'm sure, to play god like that. Maybe it's part of what makes writing so addictive?

ev said...

Ok, Michelle- How in the world can you write a blog about romance and still not have read any of the JD Robb books? Your education is sadly lacking. Honestly woman would you just read the damn things already????

But then what would we pick on you about???

Tiona said...

Michelle, speaking of IAD, I heard that old song "Werewolves in London" the other day and it got me all sintamental, hehe, as only a IAD lover would be, hehe

Amanda from Novel Addiction said...

Holy cow, I definitely need this book! And a nice poster of that cover to put above my bed so while I'm laying in bed, getting ready to sleep.. it's the last thing I see. I'm sure that would lead to some good dreams!

My favorite dark hero would probably be... Valerius from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. He can be a real jerk, but gosh, I'd love to mess with his tight arse. I mean make him let loose a little, not that, you perv!

Teehee, thanks!
Morning Glow

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

No wonder you're called 'morning glow' if you go to bed thinking like that! :) I'm so glad you brought up Val! He was my first Kenyon, and you're so spot on about him! I love that he's still arrogant when he shows up in DH books.

M. said...

I love the collage! I'm in the midst of creating my first one, but since it's a comedy my images are ever so slightly different....*g*

I hadn't thought of the idea of using passages written in a particular type of font, so I'm going to adopt that idea. Thanks.

Still new to the UF genre and enjoying getting my feet wet. This book sounds great.

mayamissani AT yahoo DOT ca

kalynnick said...

Book sounds good. Can't wait to try it out,

kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com