Before we begin, thank you to all of you who stopped by last Friday to support Jessi Gage and celebrate the release of her time travel highland romance, Wishing for a Highlander. One of the winners of her giveaway was on this blog, so congratulations to Angela. If you haven’t picked up a copy of Wishing for a Highlander, don’t forgot. It’s still 50% of at Lyrical Press and is also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
So, with no further ado, we return to and Blue Skies from Pain.
Welcome back to our review and commentary of Stina Leicht’s and Blue Skies from Pain, starring Liam Kelly, a half fay, ex-IRA wheelman, who is subjecting himself to the church for the sake of attempting to make peace and to reassure them that he is not a demon. But, so far, things have gone badly awry.
After Liam gets patched up from being attacked by a demon tainted security crew, Father Murray goes out to give the bad news to Sceolan, Liam’s fay uncle, and hope peace can be maintained. While talking to Sceolan, he learns that Liam’s ability to smell demons is unique and comes from his mother’s human side. Sceolan informs Murray that there will be a sign of whether or not the treaty holds, and if it happens to be a headless member of Murray’s order--well, that should be clear enough.
Reader Comments: You have to admire Murray here. He’s courageous and honest, even when he knows that being so might well end his life and likely the truce.
Writer Comments: As a story unfolds, new levels must unfold with it or it gets boring. In this chapter, Leicht unfold the concept that humans can have power of their own and that Liam’s mother is strongly blessed with such power. Not only does this complicate the plot and Murray’s task, but it makes Leicht’s world all the more interesting.
Liam wakes in the observation room serving as his bedroom, and Haddock, the private investigator villain from the first book that Liam killed, is standing beside his bed, a ghost, all too real to Liam but invisible to everyone else. Haddock taunts him, then tries to smother him to death. Father Murray comes just in time, but Liam cannot share what all happened. Not only does it sound crazy, but the security cameras will pick up every word. Eventually, though, Father Murray shows him a trick or two to avoid the cameras, and he gives Liam the choice to stay or go. Liam reluctantly chooses to stay.
Reader Comments: Because I don’t yet know all the rules of Leicht’s world, especially when it comes to ghosts, I have no idea how Liam is going to handle Haddock. However, when he does, I hope the bastard suffers hard.
Writer Comments: In this book, Leicht has some interesting challenges. Because of her premise, it’s a bit more difficult to keep the tension high and the conflict driven. Yes, Liam is functionally a prisoner, but it is all his choice, and Father Murray frequently reminds him of this. Also, almost all the action is contained to a very small space and a single setting. At least so far, there’s no sneaking past BA barricades or speeding through city streets after a bank robbery. The action is far more low key, and as such, Leicht must rely on psychological tension and conflict much more.
Still, this might not be enough on its own. Instead, she reaches for some creative ways to amp up our concern for Liam. For example, just before he chooses to stay, thus eliminating one area of tension, an old villain returns to harass and try to kill him that no one else can see. So even as the obvious areas of conflict and tension lessen, Leicht adds new, or more specifically, gives new life to ones hinted at in the first chapters of the story.
There should always be conflict and tension, ideally multiple levels of these. When one area starts to get resolved, others should be introduced. It’s also better to have a variety from physical to psychological to emotional and more. Only toward the end of a story should these conflicts resolve without the addition of others.
Thank you for joining me for this week’s chapters of Stina Leicht’s and Blue Skies from Pain. We’ll resume our read of her book next Monday. Until then, be sure to join me for an interview with Mae Clair this Friday. She and I will talk about her research and the history behind her book, Weathering Rock, a tale of Caleb DeCardian, Civil War colonel turned werewolf and thrust through time to the twenty-first century where the man who cursed him hunts him still and will stop at nothing, including the murder of the woman Caleb falls in love with, to exact revenge.