A warm welcome to my guest author,
Hi Lily, thank you so much for giving me the chance to pop into your blog today. I love having the opportunity to connect with readers and talk about different things. One of the things that’s been on my mind for a while is how much I love the Paranormal Genre and Shapeshifters in particular, but how tired I was of the same animals shifting over and over again. There are so many shapeshifter myths in mythology to work with as a springing off point, and it was easy for me, when I sat down to write Serpent’s Kiss, to decide that the species of shifter Darian, my bodyguard character, would be, was snake.
I know, eww to so many people, but, I grew up with snakes. My old man raised them. We had pythons and boas and while they are not cute and cuddly like a cat or a dog or even a bunny, they have very distinctive personalities, mostly calm demeanors and can certainly teach a person a thing or two about patience, focus, and the art of stillness.
Have you ever seen a snake coiled, waiting, ready, tasting the air? It’s a thing of beauty. I love to photograph snakes when I come across them on the trail, their beautiful colors and scale patterns, the brightness of their eyes.
They’re not slimy, I’m not sure why so many people think that, but they are actually kind of soft and warm, and smooth unless they are shedding. I suppose if one is in water it can feel slippery, but a dry snake is not a slimy thing and they are clean animals.
I digress though, my point was, I wanted to do something different and work with an animal I loved that was too often viewed as something sinister. Not that there aren’t sinister characters that Darian encounters, there are, but there are good ones too, and a whole society that began to unfold and come together.
I actually have plans to do a series of 3ds Max images of some of the underground world and flex some of the design muscles I haven’t used in years to breathe even more life into this world that sort of appeared in my mind and wouldn’t go away. So I hope that you’ll put aside any fears or loathing for Serpent’s to give them a try. You might find their world as beautiful as I have.
Serpent’s Kiss by Layla Dorine
While searching for their missing sibling, Zaiden and his sister, Kaandhal come across the last pure blooded psy-clairvoyant of their kind. Unfortunately for them, Darian has no idea what he truly is and isn’t much interested in learning, or in helping them locate their brother, Zxex.
A bounty hunter by trade, who’s been all but banished from his family due to his visions, Darian’s a bit cynical about his ability to be of any assistance to them. Never-the-less, Zaiden brings him back to their home Rhumba, where Darian discovers that very little is what it seems.
With plots unfolding all around them and discoveries about his own heritage leaving Darian reeling, he is left with the choice of whether to embrace who and what he is, or spend every moment with them a prisoner on the fringes of their society.
Add in a pesky little bond that only seems to grow the more time he and Zaiden spend together, and several factions looking to gain possession of him and Darian is left wondering if his visions just might be the least of his troubles.
It took him back to another time, to home, when he was still too young to fully understand just how differently he was being treated. In those days, when the flashes of the future he glimpsed showed moments of sadness, he did everything he could to cheer the other person up. When he caught glimpses of troubled times, he attempted to give warnings, going so far as to throw himself between his older brother and a heavy piece of iron seconds before it fell. His leg had been broken for his efforts, but it was better than the vision he’d received of his brother with a huge, bloody gash in his skull, twitching in the hallway.
Blinking back the memory, he drew away from her touch and its warmth. “It only seemed to scare them more,” he admitted.
“But that was no fault of yours,” Kaandhal insisted. “The fault lay with them. Everything you attempted to do was out of love for them, and they repaid that love with scorn and fear, pushing you aside for it. You did not deserve that. Now we are giving you a second chance, but this time, it is up to you to take it. You can hold on to the pain that you carry, you can continue to lash out at the world over the actions of a handful, or you can stand up and be a man and do what you were born to do.”
He was silent for a moment, studying her.
“And if I choose not to use my gifts?” he asked. “If I choose to keep burying them, then what? Your brother seems convinced that someone is going to come hunting me. I’ve got nowhere to go. Will you throw me out of here if I don’t do what you want?”
Tight lipped she shook her head, regarding him sadly. “No. This is your home for as long as you choose to live in it.”
The shock must have registered on his face because her expression changed. “I am so sorry that you’ve grown up to be so skeptical of people.”
“I…” he stammered, shocked at the honest emotion in her voice. “Thanks.”
She smiled then, a soft one, honest and kind. “I have faith in you, Darian. You are capable of great things and I know you will help us bring Zxex back home where he belongs.”
“I wish I was as sure of that as you are,” he admitted. “Kyle…Zxex and I had one hell of a falling out.”
“Might I ask what it was about?” she asked.
Another heavy sigh escaped him as he sank down on the edge of the bed and buried his head in his hands. “He saw me the same way that you do, but more than that, when I looked into his eyes I accidently saw the future, my future and how it related to him.” Darrell shook his head. “I couldn’t handle it, the trust, the expectation. You do know what I do for a living, right? Why there were guns all over my place?”
“Yes,” Kaandhal acknowledged. “You are a bounty hunter, or were, you will not need to make that kind of a living here.”
“And you know that I use my gifts to help me find the people I’m chasing,” he prompted. “That I dig around in the heads of their friends and family until I find the clues I need to locate them. Then I bring them in and I collect on their misfortune.”
“You regret it.”
“How can you tell?” he asked. “Reading my mind again?”
“No, it is in the sound of your voice and the sorrowful look in your eyes. It’s in the way you are curling in on yourself, as if you wish to hide. You do not have to be ashamed here either, Darian. None will hold your past against you. This is a clean slate. All you need to do is embrace it.
Interview with Layla
The film you can watch time and time again…
There are several and it all depends on what mood I’m in. I love Memoirs of a Geisha, and no matter how many times I watch it, I find myself getting drawn into the story and beauty and cruelty of their world. I think it’s because I see it as this ultimate performance art, and I marvel at how much talent it had to take to be successful. The story itself too, is haunting and sad and just the kind of tone and mood that resonates with me. Another I can watch over and over is Waiting to Exhale. I remember falling in love with the book first, at a young age, before I was actually married the first time but it was after that marriage that I found myself connecting even more fully with the story and the women in it, the lost dreams and the betrayals. The third movie that is a go to for me is The Crow. It appeals to that darker side of me that loves the atmosphere created but also the struggles of the characters and the way death isn’t always the end. I used to write bits of dark fantasy/dark urban paranormal and it was always a Crow like feel I was going for when I shaped those stories.
The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity…
I love to go down to the old creek bed west of town when its dry and poke around and see what I can find. So far, I’ve pulled out a latch pen from a gate from the 1800s, American camel fossilized teeth, fossilized bison teeth and one cave bear tooth. It’s fun to play armature archeologist and to have actually taken my finds to someone who specializes in Ice Age animals and have her authenticate the teeth. Last year rains kept the river high so the creek stayed flooded, I have my fingers crossed that this year will be a dry one, I miss poking around among the rocks and sand.
The poem that touches your soul…
Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. The first time I encountered it was in reading The Outsiders by SE Hinton, when Ponyboy reads it to Jonny and they both talk about how they are gold when they are young but the things that they see and experience tarnish that and how youth is like the dawn of your life when everything is shinny and bright and gold. It resonated with me because in those words was also a deep and profound sadness, that no matter what we tried to do, we wouldn’t be able to hold on to that innocence and those golden moments would be lost.
The song that means the most to you…
Spoke in the Wheel by Zakk Wylde. I always loved him when he played guitar for Ozzy, but his work on his own has been on a different level, deeper, more profound and heartfelt and then add in his voice and it’s to swoon over. That whisky roughness of it that echoes with haunting pain comes through in spades in Spoke in the Wheel and that chorus… “Someday you’ll know just how it feels, shattered, cast aside, stripped of your pride like you never nothin’ special baby, makes you feel, like another spoke in the wheel.” It’s something I’ve strove to capture in several of my characters, that pain of being abandoned, and when I need help tapping into the words, I just sit and listen to Zakk, and it all comes together.
The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you…
Oh wow, it’s funny, because there was only ever one thing I wanted to be more than an author, and that was a musician in a band and tour the country. I did get to play in the band, a metal band in high school, I played guitar, but we never did anything with it besides some shows around the city and practicing in a friends back room. I love music though, to this day I have my guitars though I rarely touch them. When I do, there’s a disappointment there that still depresses me, makes me wonder if I’d I have been good enough, if I’d stayed on that path. I guess that’s why so many of my characters are involved in music in some way.
Your early recollections of writing fiction…
I wanted to be like SE Hinton, write a book while still young, she was 15 when The Outsiders came out, I was 12 when I tried my hand at it. What I worked on was probably closer to a fan fic of the Outsiders, it had all original characters but anyone with eyes would have been able to draw parallels between the two. What it did though, was show me that the worlds that were in my head, the things that played there like slow moving movies, could be put into a format to be shared with others, if I dared. I wasn’t sure I’d ever dare show anymore. I always felt like the odd one out, staring off into the distance listening to the characters in my head instead of other people. I was afraid that if I shared those worlds people would just laugh and think I was crazy so for years, I turned my attention to poems and lyrics. Those were safer. They were still me expressing feelings and thoughts, but its wasn’t on the same levels as the things that lived in my head.
The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions…
I love this question, because I love to travel, and if I only get 24 hours, then I’m going to make it count. Drop me on a beach, in Hawaii or back on Guam, I want to surf again and walk in the sand and pick up shells. I want to swim in the warm water, snorkel and take pictures of the fish on the reef. I want to sit on a rock, watch the waves and listen to the sound of them crashing. I want tropical drinks and to leave footsteps in the sand, swim at night, have a bonfire, and recapture childhood moments that were simply amazing.
The figure from history you would most like to buy a pie and a pint…
Jim Morrison of The Doors. I’ve always admired his words, especially his poetry. He wasn’t afraid to slip into the dark side of things, dance on the edge, portray a world in which there was both light and chaos all swirling together. He wrote about finding oneself on the highways of American, in the cities, and in the people one encountered as well as the beasts. He wrote about how we were all human and animal and spirts were all entwined and I would love to ask him where it was he felt most at home and how he found the courage to be so free.
The piece of wisdom you would pass onto your child…
Live your life the way you want to live it, don’t let anyone, even me or your dad, tell you what you should love or focus on or care about. Don’t set yourself up for regrets, don’t get caught up in drama, don’t worry about what others are doing, make your own path, and forge ahead like you’re on a mission, you’ll be happier for it. I promise.
The philosophy that underpins your life…
Just do it. Don’t worry about what others might say, if it’s impulsive so be it, if its scary or odd, oh well. Just, don’t talk yourself out of things. It’s not stupid, it’s only stupid if you don’t give it a shot. Everything else is a learning experience. Even failure.
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.