Monday, July 15, 2013
Please welcome multi-talented, award winning author Cate Masters, who will be discussing mythology and her own unique twist with the immortals in her novel Death Is A Bitch.
Mythology - just an alternate reality
For a writer, the stuff of myth and legend is treasure. Pure story gold. Heroes and heroines who don't simply embody the archetype, they invented it. Sooo much better than fairy tales (though I'm a huge fan of those as well).
Immortals particularly intrigue me. Existing since the dawn of time tends to lend interest to a character, doesn't it? By definition, an immortal would still exist in present time, and I love nothing better than placing an ancient character in a modern setting.
I am not, however, a fan of stereotypes. I think I broke a few in my stories, particularly with Death Is A Bitch. The figure of speech provided the story title, and sparked the story idea. Too many times, Death's personified as a Grim Reaper, a scary hooded figure with a scythe, with maybe a glimpse of a skeleton beneath. Mythology generally depicts Death as male. But I loved the idea of a strong-willed, intelligent heroine with a serious work ethic. She has to be serious, with that huge workload.
Why did any harvester of souls have to be cold and unfeeling? My Death has a soft spot for children and the elderly. Maybe losing my parents in recent years influenced this. I liked to think any Angel of Death provided comfort to my Mom and Dad along their journey to the afterlife. I played with the names a bit in these scenes - my Dad's brother, who died just before him, was named Harry. My Dad's name was Joe, so I used the female variation of Jo for Harry's wife.
It's likely my Dad would've objected to my version of Death. A longtime deacon, he had strict views on religion. Raised Catholic, I avoid religious references, for obvious reasons. Every religion has its own version of Death, and I respect everyone's personal beliefs. Thankfully, fiction allows each writer great leeway in portraying characters as befits the story. For me, that's the only goal -- telling a good story. To me, angels are merely another type of immortal. Why shouldn't one immortal fall in love with another? Eternity's a long time to spend alone.
As you might have guessed, my father had a huge influence on my life. He went out of his way to help people who needed it, and if one of us kids needed him, he was there. So it's more than coincidence that Death's father, Erebos, is much the same. Likewise with Nyx, her mother, whose maternal instincts shine.
Other characters took shape from mythological roots as well. Death's twin, Hypnos, is also generally portrayed as male, but I couldn't resist a cute female in worn out bunny slippers. Azrael is indeed the Patron Angel of Dying and Death, according to my Dictionary of Angels - the perfect mate for Death, I thought.
King Sisyphus' legend provided the plot. Until I researched, I'd never heard of the mortal who escaped Death's clutches. Twice! Definitely material for revenge.
Damien was the only main character who materialized of his own accord. But Damien's like that, demon that he is. He's one of my favorite characters, and my favorite type of characters -- flawed, complex, prone to mistakes even if attempting something for a good cause: love. I may have to revisit his story in the future.
It's hard to believe Death will soon celebrate her first book birthday! Watch my blog for news of Death's birthday bash.
If you've read Death Is A Bitch, I hope you enjoyed it! If you haven't but would like to, you can find it here:
DEATH IS A BITCH by Cate Masters
Eternity can suck when it’s all work, work, work. Death harvests souls even when they stack up faster than pancakes in an all-you-can-eat-buffet. No wonder she can’t shed the Grim Reaper rep.
As the patron angel of death and dying, Azrael works closely with Death but is dying for true intimacy. She’s the only immortal who’s ever aroused such powerful emotions in him. One taste of her leaves him needing her like humans need air and food, but will a demon’s lies leave a bad taste?
No one escapes Death – except King Sisyphus. Twice. With the help of Damien the demon, Sisyphus tries again, and she’s determined to have justice. Some say Death’s a bitch, but only when she has to be. But will the price of justice be a broken heart?
MY REVIEW: I read Death Is A Bitch, and loved it so much I bought Cursed in hopes it was as dazzling with the characters and world building. Ms Masters tells a well balanced story using expert pacing, intriguing but human characters, and a writing style that is near poetic.
The story starts off hot and steamy with Azrael sweating through his first meeting with the immortal ranks under his new title as Director of the Department of Death and Dying. The one employee he is most anxious to impress, Death herself, appears the least impressed by his management style. Especially when his first conversation with Death leaves him fumbling to rectify an unintended insult.
I liked how efficiently Ms Masters introduced the world, the hierarchy, the main characters and the love interest. While firmly setting the story in the paranormal, the reader easily envisions a comparable real-world corporate environment. The atmosphere is not a exploration of right and wrong, or even a good-vs-evil fight for human souls. Its about Justice vs Injustice, and the lengths a jilted, jealous lover will go to win her back.
Not that Damien the Demon should feel the loss of one potential flame. He is as beautiful in form as Azrael, and a sociable charmer who uses his forked tongue in more intimate places than whispering in a lover's ear. He has willing partners by the dozens. But he doesn't like being rejected, and he is hurt to his hellish roots when both Death, and the soul he has arrived to procure a devilish deal with, leaves in the comforting light of Azrael.
Tensions mount as Damien sets a trap that involves releasing King Sisyphus from his eternal damnation, capturing Death within her own gilded cage, and instigating a series of miscommunication between Azrael and Death so that when the two burgeoning lovers are together during the course of performing their duties, they are too frustrated to follow their lusty hearts.
Ms. Masters keeps the sexual tension high, and moves along both the romance and several story plots, all while showing that romance in the after life is as complex as the judicial system that weighs deeds of demons and mankind alike. The ending of this story is satisfactorily wrapped up, even as the status quo remains intact.
I give Death Is A Bitch by Cate Masters 5 stars for steamy romance, sexual heat, excellent world building, and one of the most entertaining stories I've read all year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling I I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination. Visit Cate online at www.catemasters.com, http://catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Visit Cate's bio page on her blog to learn more about her publications, publishers and writing awards.