No Good Deed by Bill BlaisWelcome fellow readers to my second stop on the book tour hosted by Illuminated Tours! Today I have a guest post and giveaway to share with you, and hope you’ll enjoy learning more about No Good Deed (Kelly & Umber Novel Book 1) and the author Bill Blais.
Check out my review in yesterday’s post!
Kelly McGinnis has spent her adult life trying to do the right thing, but as a newly down-sized mother of twins and the wife of a man living with Muscular Sclerosis, she also knows that trying isn’t always enough.
While interrupting a scene of police brutality, Kelly unwittingly releases a real, live demon. After she manages to kill the creature through gut instinct and blind luck, she is approached to join a secret group of demon hunters who reveal an underworld of monsters and magic. Kelly’s mill town upbringing proves an unexpected asset and the pay more than covers her husband’s treatments, but the work begins to undermine her sense of right and wrong as she struggles to maintain her ‘normal’ life.
When she encounters Umber, a compelling incubus with an unexpectedly human story, Kelly learns that the truth is far stranger and more terrifying than she imagined. Read an excerpt.
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Keep reading for my review! Be sure to look through all the tabs for more details.
Characters Worth Caring About
Author Bill Blais discusses the two most important traits an author needs to place within his or her character to make readers care about them.
I‘ve talked a bit before about what traits are important to grab readers, but today (thanks to Cheryl for giving me this opportunity!) I’m going to approach this topic from the other direction and suggest what I think are the traits an author needs most to help a reader care about the characters. In this case, I would have to say the two most important traits are honesty and humility.
Honesty, for me, refers to treating the characters as people, not just as mouthpieces or plot devices. Readers can always tell the difference between a genuine character and a character borrowed from stereotypes or forced into actions or dialogue, and while using tried and true types has a lot of appeal, I think readers react most strongly to characters they feel are real, rounded individuals.
Achieving this kind of honesty is, like most things worth doing, as effortlessly easy and infuriatingly difficult to do, at least for me. I am constantly struggling to keep my own overt intentions for a story’s direction or tone from overwhelming the genuine interactions, reactions and complete side-steps which my characters prefer.
This is where the humility comes in, because, for me, being an author means having a split-personality.
On the one hand, I am the omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresent end-all and be-all of a story’s existence. Every single detail — from the color of the faded brick sidewalk to the sound of a news-caster’s voice to the smell of Aunt Caroline’s fresh-baked doughnut muffins to the sight of a demon’s flat and windowless eyes — these are all created (or destroyed) by the touch of my pencil on the page.
On the other hand, if I try to enforce this power at every turn, the result is, at its very best, a pretty diorama. At its worst, it’s a monotone monologue that just happens to be coming from different mouths.
If I don’t listen to the characters, let them speak their minds and make their own choices, the story fails. This is because the story is not my story, but theirs. I may ‘breathe life’ into them, but as any inventor or creator (or parent!) knows, the creations immediately take on lives of their own, often well outside the parameters or boundaries we had set (or hoped to set) for them.
In most cases, this is ultimately great news, because if children were limited by their parents’ horizons, the world would be a very, very boring place. I code websites that my father could not even guess at when I was born, and my daughter will use technology in ways even William Gibson hasn’t imagined.
In some cases, of course, the result is not so great news, but even tragedy is important — and, in my humble and slightly sadistic opinion, necessary — when we’re talking about making characters readers can truly care about.
If I don’t give my characters the chance to succeed and fail in their own right, instead automatically assigning ‘success’ to the hero and ‘failure’ to the enemy, then I have necessarily and deliberately undermined a reader’s ability to care.
Okay, so that’s my two (hundred) cents, but what do you think?
“I mean a mother fighting demons, not exactly a concept we’re used to seeing in a supernatural fantasy [but] No Good Deed completely surprised me in the best way … Kelly has become one of my new
favorite heroines! … Kelly proves that being ordinary is the best kind of hero.” — Open Book Society
“In Kelly, Blais creates a woman who really is out of her depth, but who rises to the occasion … I was delighted to see the same high level of detail go into everything, from demon battles to Kelly’s relationship with her husband (which was, dare I say, utterly and charmingly adorable) … Highly recommended to anyone looking to switch up their usual Urban Fantasy line-up.” — Canary Reviews
“No Good Deed is a powerful story of demons without and those within the human psyche. It’s a fine story highly recommended for any who want a more literary and thoughtful read than is offered by the usual tale of magical encounters.” — The Midwest Book Review
“What can I say? Kelly is awesome!!” — LovLivLifeReviews
Bill Blais is a writer, web developer and perennial part-time college instructor. His novels include Witness (winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Fantasy) and the Kelly & Umber urban fantasy series. Bill graduated from Skidmore College before earning an MA in Medieval Studies from University College London. He lives in Maine with his wife and daughter.
Another Night at the End of the World (release delayed)
Enter to win your own copy of No Good Deed by Bill Blais! The giveaway is open to all readers worldwide who are 16 or older and ends next Tuesday, July 31st at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. All entries are optional — earn as many or few as you like.
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