Friday Feature & Contest: Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall

Hello, and welcome to my second ever blog tour, celebrating Riptide Publishing’s release of my second ever novel, IRON & VELVET. Yay! Thank you so much to Book Reviews and More by Kathy for hosting me. And, to you, dear reader, for stopping by. If you’d like to come with me and keep me company on my virtual wanderings, you can find a full listing of when and where I am here.

There’s also some kind of contest type thing happening. I had a bit of trouble choosing a prize for this one because most of the things Kate likes (booze, cigarettes, knives, women) are illegal to ship internationally. I thought about a fedora, but then I remembered people had differently shaped heads and there was no point sending somebody an item of clothing they wouldn’t be able to wear. So, basically, that leaves coffee and Bovril and nobody likes Bovril except people from the North East of England. I’m therefore going offer 250g of Jamaican Blue Mountain, the nicest coffee in the known universe, purchased from a wonderful speciality shop, ground or beaned to your specification. If you don’t like coffee, I’ll replace it with an equivalently lovely tea. And if you really want to try the Bovril, I could probably be persuaded to throw that in as well.

If you’d like win this distressingly perishable souvenir please answer the three questions below (clues in the book) and drop me an email. I’ll announce the winner a handful of days after the end of the tour.

1. Whodunnit?
2. What is hanging in the study of Aeglica Thrice-Risen?
3. What’s Rule Twelve?

Team Nimue

It must have something to do with her magic, and I’ve never worked out whether it’s deliberate or not, but Nimue slips out of my memory like mist. It’s only when I see her again that it all comes flooding back, a rush of tangled images. Burying my hands in her hair, kisses that taste of cold mornings and deep midnights. Meeting all over London. The glittering terraces of Kensington, the muddled suburbs of Uxbridge, the concrete temple of a multi-storey car park in Peckham, the motley patchwork of stalls at Portobello Market. The city through Nimue’s eyes.

(Somewhere in Iron & Velvet)

In all the urban fantasy I’ve ever read, there’s always a smorgasbord of hotties for the heroine to choose between and angst about choosing between. And, naturally, I wanted to make sure Kate was in the same predicament.

After vampires and werewolves, the next slot to fill was mages. I’d originally been leaning towards the idea of mages as ivory-tower academic sorts, sitting in their little rooms drinking tea and reading through old books, but I was a bit concerned that they’d overlap too much with the werewolves, so I rethought it a bit and settled on mages as being basically ordinary people who piece their power together from scraps of oral tradition and personal mystical experience.

It probably reveals something about my personal preoccupations that as a result I wound up with the three primary supernatural factions in the Kate Kane series more or less reflecting the British class system, with upper class werewolves living in fancy stately homes, middle class vampires running the banks and nightclubs, and working class mages hanging out in community centres.

Nimue wound up being a far more understated character than Julian or Tara (not that it would be particularly difficult to be more understated than Julian or Tara – they’re both pretty over the top), and that meant that she wound up having a slightly different role in the tangled mess that is Kate’s love life. Part of the reason I gave Nim and Kate a pre-existing relationship was to highlight the fact that Kate has been around for a while, and had been in relationships with people who weren’t Patrick. But another part of it was simply that while Julian and Tara are the sort of people who will aggressively pursue somebody just because they think she’s hot, Nim really isn’t. Any relationship between Kate and Nimue would have to be a slow burn, because she doesn’t really work any other way, and so the only way to have any kind of tension in the series before about book eight was for Kate and Nim to already have been an item.

As always, it’s not my place to make this call, but I think it wound up working fairly effectively. Nimue’s whole schtick is about dreams and mists and memories, and so it made sense to me for her relationship with Kate to be grounded in a never-quite-articulated shared history. In a strange way Nim probably has more influence over Kate than any other character in the book. She plays her cards very close to her chest, but despite this Kate trusts her more or less implicitly.

Nimue is something of a contradictory character, in that she’s at once one of the most down-to-earth characters in the book and, at the same time, one of the most otherworldly. Throughout the book she does a lot of appearing from nowhere, vanishing into mist, and generally being mysterious and unknowable. From a romantic perspective, Nim is in some ways a much safer bet for Kate than Julian or Tara – there’s none of that tricky immortality to deal with, there’s no vast disparity in wealth, and no chance of anybody suddenly flipping out and eating anyone. On the other hand, Nimue is in many ways completely bound up in her role as mystical queen of London, and any relationship she had would need to be integrated into that, and Kate isn’t really the Guinevere type.

Part of the reason that Nimue’s status as mystical city-queen wound up being such a significant part of the series was that, since she’s the one of the few major characters who aren’t necessarily white, I was very conscious of the risk of allowing her to become a resource to be used by the other characters. There’s a tendency for generically magical characters to wind up being used as get-out-of-plot free cards at the best of times, and when those characters are also the only people of colour in the text you wind up with the awkward situation where it feels like they’re just sitting around waiting until the white people need help with something. I hope I managed to create the sense that while Nim cares a lot about Kate, and doesn’t want to see her die horribly, she also has plenty of her own stuff going on.

Julian, Nim and Tara were designed fairly deliberately to create at least the potential for a long-running love quadrangle (tetrahedron?). Perhaps I’m betraying my fannish tendencies, but I’ve always felt that one of the pleasures of reading this kind of story is having Very Strong Opinions about who the heroine should wind up with (or in extreme cases, who you think is far too good for the heroine and should run off with somebody completely different). When I’m writing the series, I tend to ship Kate with whoever she’s talking to at the time, but a tiny part of me hopes that readers will have their favourites, because I kind of feel that’s part of the fun.


Title: Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall
Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator Book One
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: F/F, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery
Length: 296 pages/Word Count: 77,200

Summary:

My name’s Kate Kane, and when an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince came to me with a case, I should have told her no. But I’ve always been a sucker for a femme fatale.

It always goes the same way. You move too fast, you get in too deep, and before you know it, someone winds up dead. Last time it was my partner. This time it could be me. Yesterday a werewolf was murdered outside the Velvet, the night-time playground of one of the most powerful vampires in England. Now half the monsters in London are at each other’s throats, and the other half are trying to get in my pants. The Witch Queen will protect her own, the wolves are out for vengeance, and the vampires are out for, y’know, blood.

I’ve got a killer on the loose, a war on the horizon, and a scotch on the rocks. It’s going to be an interesting day.

You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy the book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.


Author Bio

Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a seventeenth century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

You can also find him all over the internet, on his website, Facebook, Twitter, BookLikes, and Goodreads.


Contest

From Alexis Hall: I’m therefore going offer 250g of Jamaican Blue Mountain, the nicest coffee in the known universe, purchased from a wonderful speciality shop, ground or beaned to your specification. If you don’t like coffee, I’ll replace it with an equivalently lovely tea. And if you really want to try the Bovril, I could probably be persuaded to throw that in as well.

If you’d like win this distressingly perishable souvenir please answer the three questions below (clues in the book) and drop me an email. I’ll announce the winner a handful of days after the end of the tour.

1. Whodunnit?
2. What is hanging in the study of Aeglica Thrice-Risen?
3. What’s Rule Twelve?

Want more info about Iron & Velvet? Follow the rest of the tour HERE.

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7 Comments

Filed under Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Blog

7 Responses to Friday Feature & Contest: Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall

  1. Timitra

    Interesting post.

  2. laurie g

    Interesting post. thank you for sharing!

  3. Aija

    From what I’ve read in this tour I aready like Nimue the best. 😀 If she doesn’t end up with Kate, can we have a spin-off? *g*

    • AJH

      *laughs* I guess Nimue is less an archetype than the others (um, unless you count King Arthur) as Julian as the sex-vampire, and Tara is the alphadick … so in that respect she’s probably slightly more balanced. But, well, time will tell 🙂

  4. AJH

    Thank you so much for hosting me 🙂