Hello and good morning (or good night – depending where you’re at right now). I’m thrilled to welcome May Peterson on Queer Books Unbound to celebrate her debut release Lord of the Last Heartbeat – which is out today with Carina Press!
Guest Post by May Peterson
One of the most fun parts about world-building is that you have a host of ideas that readers will recognize, like familiar tastes, to combine with new ideas that are all your own. The result is often this exciting alchemy that fuses elements that are already known with parts that are uniquely you, as if you have the honor of adding to an ever-growing mythology. That’s also the challenge of world-building, making sure the novelties you introduce are accessible to the reader and keeping the familiar components fresh.
This was true for an element of my fantasy setting in Lord of the Last Heartbeat, a supernatural being called a moon-soul. Lord Rhodry Bedefyr, one of the leads, is a bear-soul, a kind of moon-soul with the power and blessing of a noble bear spirit. This makes him much like a bear-shifter, and he can turn into a bear form. But a very common reaction from readers has been to interpret Rhodry at the beginning of the story as a vampire. I mean, he does act like one, including dad jokes about blood-drinking, which we all know is very important.
So is he a vampire or a shifter? Well, kind of both. One way I described Rhodry to a friend was “one part Dracula, one part werebear, and one part D&D druid.”
One of my classic favorite series is Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, which features vampires and werewolves that are strikingly similar to each other. I’ve often been used to werewolves that live in nature and are exactly like a mortal human when not in wolf form, but her werewolves are immortal, nocturnal, harmed by sunlight, often live in castles, and induct mortals into their packs the way a vampire might.
I enjoyed the creativity behind this, and it was one inspiration for me to play around with my own ideas about supernatural beings and their conventions. For instance, moon-souls aren’t only a blend of vampire and shifter, they have their own unique features. One thing that sets them apart is that, unlike many classic vampires and shifters, there’s no way for a moon-soul to spread their nature to others, such as through blood or a bite. There’s nothing contagious about it. What does make someone a moon-soul is dying and being resurrected. When someone dies, there’s a chance a noble animal spirit will bring that person back to life, immortal and gifted with the supernatural gifts of the animal spirit. There’s no telling for sure whether a spirit will do this or why, and it’s rare, so the whole process is a mystery!
This also means that being a moon-soul is like being granted a second chance, which is what Rhodry’s situation is all about. Even though he’s not exactly a vampire and not exactly a shifter, and is more of a fantasy being than a paranormal one, I hope fans of vampire and shifter fiction, as well as fantasy and romance fans, will enjoy his story!
Title: Lord of the Last Heartbeat
Author: May Peterson
Series: The Sacred Dark, #1
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Stop me. Please.
Three words scrawled in bloodred wine. A note furtively passed into the hand of a handsome stranger. Only death can free Mio from his mother’s political schemes. He’s put his trust in the enigmatic Rhodry—an immortal moon soul with the power of the bear spirit—to put an end to it all.
But Rhodry cannot bring himself to kill Mio, whose spellbinding voice has the power to expose secrets from the darkest recesses of the heart and mind. Nor can he deny his attraction to the fair young sorcerer. So he spirits Mio away to his home, the only place he can keep him safe—if the curse that besieges the estate doesn’t destroy them both first.
In a world teeming with mages, ghosts and dark secrets, love blooms between the unlikely pair. But if they are to be strong enough to overcome the evil that draws ever nearer, Mio and Rhodry must first accept a happiness neither ever expected to find.
May Peterson, a lifelong lover of stories, has always had a deep fondness for books, animation, and comics. May is also rumored to be some kind of magical creature, but exactly which kind is still debated by scholars. While they sort that out, May busies herself as a romance and fantasy author, as well as a freelance editor. She is drawn toward both writing and reading stories that are magical, hopeful, and distinctive, as well as those that explore identity, queerness, and connection. May, who also writes as M.A. Peterson, believes that bringing a daydream to life with its own tale to tell is always a small miracle.
Genre: Fantasy Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Gay Pairing: enby/M Publisher: Carina Press Tag: Guest Post Tag: Magic Tag: Part of a series Lord of the Last Heartbeat May Peterson The Sacred Dark series