(The Bureau #3)
by Kim Fielding
Date Released: May 7, 2018
Alone in a cell and lacking memories of his past, John has no idea who—or what—he is.
Alone on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, Harry has far too many memories of his painful past and feels simply resignation in facing his empty future.
When Harry is given a chance to achieve his only dream—to become an agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs—all he has to do is prove his worth. Yet nothing has ever come easy for him. Now he must offer himself and John as bait, enticing a man who wants to conquer death. But first he and John must learn what distinguishes a monster from a man—and what a monster truly wants.
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An Excerpt from Creature
John was greedy.
Every time the first sliver of sunlight came through the high barred window, he’d crawl across the floor and lay sprawled on his back, waiting for the thread of heat to grow into a ribbon. Eventually it became a blanket, warming him through the thick layer of grime that coated his skin. He closed his eyes and spread his scrawny limbs, and for a short time he possessed a crumb of comfort. One small thing he could claim as his own.
But then the sun would recede, unraveling his blanket until nothing remained but darkness and cold and the unforgiving hard surfaces of the cell. During those bleak hours, he hated the sun with an icy rage that chilled him more than the stone floor on which he lay. But every morning when the first rays again snuck in the window, his love was rekindled. John gorged on the light as long as it was his.
John wasn’t his real name. He didn’t remember his name, didn’t remember having a name. But a man needed a name, even if he was all by himself in a cell with inconstant sunlight as his only visitor. Sometimes he said it out loud just to hear the solid consonants echo against the walls. “John. I am a man called John.”
Only… he wasn’t at all certain that he was a man. He had all the parts a man ought to have, at least as far as he could tell. His legs were too weak to hold him upright, his arms as thin as broomsticks, and his cock hung flaccid and useless. Yet he did have legs and arms and a cock. Like a man. But within the long emptiness of his memories, he’d never once had food or drink, and men needed those things to survive. And in those days before he was in the cell—God, he wished he didn’t recall those days—people had done things to his body that no man could have survived. He still had marks from those days, bumpy scars and puckered ridges that itched under the dirt but wouldn’t heal.
And he had no heartbeat.
If he wasn’t a man, though, he didn’t know what he might be instead. So he called himself John and a man, and he greedily drank the sunlight when he could.
“John,” he whispered today as the light slipped away. “I’m John. Come back to me soon, please.”
A Guest Post by Kim Fielding
Raising the dead
Hi! Kim Fielding here. I’m happy to be here to celebrate the release of my new book, Creature.
Today’s topic is a little unusual: raising the dead. Because that’s totally a topic romance authors and readers are into, right? Well yeah, it is, actually, at least if they enjoy speculative fiction. I think raising the dead can have a very comfortable place in spec fic romance.
Consider vampires, for example. Lots of us consider vampire stories sexy. I wrote over 100 fanfic stories starring Spike the vampire, mostly hooking up with various male Buffy characters. I’ve written some original stories about vamps too, most recently Ante Up. And what are vampires? In most mythologies, they’re dead people brought back to some semblance of life.
And what about zombies? I wouldn’t have thought they’d provide very good romance fodder, but then I saw Warm Bodies, which I thought was very sweet. So there you go.
I love the book American Gods (and have been enjoying the TV series too). I don’t think it’s too spoilerish to point out that Shadow’s wife remains an important character even though she’s most definitely dead. He still loves her, and I think she loves him too, in her own flawed way. His feelings for her prove a major catalyst to the plot.
And last but most definitely not least, we have Frankenstein, a story about a man created from parts of dead people. If you’ve read the original story, you’ll realize that while it’s not a romance—it’s really more of a tragedy than anything else—love or the absence thereof is a critical theme. As he becomes more human, Frankenstein’s monster craves companionship, belonging, and love. When the monster learns that he’ll never get those things from humans due to his appearance, he begs his creator to make him a partner. It’s only when Frankenstein reneges on this promise that the monster becomes truly, well, monstrous. And how does he get vengeance? By destroying the people Frankenstein loves. That’s, um, kind of romantic in a gothic horror sort of way.
One of my favorite modern takes on the Frankenstein trope is Eli Easton’s novella, Reparation (it’s in the first Gothika anthology, Stitch, which also contains stories by Sue Brown, Jamie Fessenden, and me). In this story, an executed prisoner is recycled into a slave laborer and sent to a harsh planet… and love ensues.
My newest book, Creature, draws on this tradition as well. As with many stories involving resurrected dead, the story is dark in parts. But love proves a key element, and I do promise an HEA.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
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