Message From The Author
A Servant to Her Muse
LORI FOSTER FINDS 'ACCEPTANCE' AS HER ALTER EGO, URBAN FANTASY'S
By Lauren Spielberg
After 80-plus books, Lori Foster has set romance aside momentarily to get down and dirty. In the second novel of her Servant series, the author, an RT Career Achievement winner now writing as
L.L. Foster, serves up Servant: The Acceptance (Berkley), an urban fantasy novel that's a departure from her more amorous roots.
But Foster's hard-edged heroine, Gabrielle Cody, isn't wanting for male companionship. Of course, the demon fighter who first appeared in Foster's series launch book, 2007's Servant: The Awakening, has a lot of other things on her plate, and although she may embrace her destiny, she's not one to sugarcoat her predicament.
As with all of her characters, Foster says she knows Gaby intimately. "That's how I write," she explains. "I know my characters and then I let them lead me through a book. Duty and responsibility to others is all Gaby has known. She hasn't wanted friends, because that muddies the water and puts her at risk. Friends ask too many questions, get too curious. Friends can hurt her. But little by little, her life is changing -- and not always for the better, because her sense of responsibility is growing as her social circle expands."
In the first book, Gaby discovers that the physical pain she has endured most of her life portends life-and-death peril. Tasked with protecting the innocent from demons, she does
so with remarkable skill, speed, strength -- and sass. When Detective Luther Cross catches the loner near a dead body, their lives intertwine irrevocably, and a relationship edges its way into book two.
"Gaby is a lone assassin for God, a paladin who recognizes evil that others might not because she sees below the surface of how people look and the everyday lives they might live," Foster says. "By the second book, readers will see that Gaby and Luther are going to be a couple, difficult as that seems. For Gaby, the problem is that when she's around Luther, he interferes with her perception of evil. Somehow he softens what she sees and feels, blunting the reality of her duty. For Luther, it's a problem because he has to come to grips with the fact that Gaby is acting through a higher power. She's
not a crazed killer but a waiflike, sad woman.
"As a cop, Luther has a duty
to fulfill," Foster continues. "But around Gaby it's difficult to focus on the duty when all he really wants is to protect her from her own harsh reality."
Although the Servant series
is not romantic fiction -- which is why Foster is using an alias --
its leading players hold a special place in the author's heart. Ironically, after her long career writing love stories, it took a dark and often violent series revolving around a demon slayer and an inquisitive cop for her to find what she says is her favorite couple.
"I'm a romantic at heart," Foster says. "I'll put them both through hell, and there will be plenty of grisly destruction along the way, but in the end, they'll both be in a bed somewhere, with smiles on their faces."
So how does an author who staked her roots in romantic
fiction make such a seamless transition to urban fantasy? Foster claims it's not as hard as it seems. A long-held interest
in "scarier plots and characters" parlayed itself into a marketable desire to write a similarly themed series.
"For a very long time, I had this series in my head, but the romance career was going so great, I didn't want to detour," she says. "Finally I told myself that I just had to do it." It wasn't entirely smooth sailing. "Other than a clear-cut idea of my characters, I didn't have a set idea of how I'd write the books, or how much plot would unfold in each. I'm a pantser -- meaning I write by the seat of my pants and never plan ahead too much. So when I write the books I don't think about what might shock others or what is acceptable in a book. I just write it.
"Romance readers who don't mind a little blood and gore in their books and can live without instant gratification -- meaning a resolution at the end of every book -- can read on without fear of an unhappy ending," she adds.
And she has more in store for readers along those lines. In Out of the Light, Into the Shadows, a Berkley anthology, set to hit stands in October '09, Foster plans to introduce the seed for another darker-themed series, along with a Lori Foster tale to keep things interesting. Foster's good friend, author Erin McCarthy, rounds out the collection of light and dark stories.
In light of the praise Foster is receiving for her change in direction, there's no telling how many books and series she'll write in this frightening new realm. "I'm so blessed, it scares me sometimes," she says. "So far everyone I've heard from has loved the series and wants more. Because this is a new series, a new genre with a new name for me, it's like being a first-time writer all over again. This time it's a much smoother path.
"Gaby has a very foul mouth, and a few people have a problem with that, but overall readers have been incredibly supportive. For every reader who's taken a chance by picking up the first book and giving it a try, I'm eternally grateful and I hope my stories never, ever disappoint you."
If Foster's upcoming book roster is any indication, her avowed attempt to cut back on the number of titles she releases each year will be a challenge.
Her plan is to alternate the romances with the more graphic material. "I already know what the third Servant book will be, and I'll write that before I start another romance."
And she hasn't forgotten
about her fan-favorite Winstons. Two new cousins will appear in upcoming anthologies: Double the Pleasure is due out in December, while Double the Fun is expected to hit stores in Dec. '09. "For those who liked Joe [who first showed up in Wild], he makes appearances," Foster promises.
And in February '09, she'll release My Man, Michael, a romance with a sprinkling of time travel.
Foster also continues to put together anthologies whose
proceeds go to charity, like this year's The Power of Love collection from Berkley. Next year's anthology will benefit an animal shelter. "I love this new project," she says. "I love working with the generous authors who take part, and I love Berkley's generosity in getting on board and setting up special contracts, with proceeds going straight to my designated causes. These
are the gifts that keep on giving -- a testament to the generosity of the romance community."
Whether it's writing romance as Lori Foster or gritty
dramas as L.L. Foster, this is one author who's proven she has
the guts and determination to sprinkle light -- and dark --
on the world.
Excerpt from Servant: The Acceptance
Boredom was her newest enemy, and since running off from Luther -- make that Detective Luther Cross -- she'd been bored more than not.
Until now, she hadn't realized how much ... excitement he'd brought to her life. You'd think
a paladin would have her hands full enough that a nosy cop bent on seduction would have been mostly annoyance, perhaps even a threat.
Instead, he'd been f---ing wonderful. The most wonderful thing to ever happen in her miserable, cursed life.
Sh--. Gaby walked along the broken concrete walkway in front of the aged, blackened building until that bored her too, then she leaned back against the rough brick, trying to ease her mind, her body.
Hanging out with hookers was a distraction, but it just didn't fill the space the way he had.
She needed something to happen, anything, to keep her from ... whoa.
Just then, her instinct kicked and she felt the presence of evil, in her bones, in her guts. Her throat burned, she looked up -- and she saw him.
Clean cut and unafraid.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The defenses screaming silently throughout her body said that he was the wrong person, in the wrong place -- and there could be nothing right about his presence here tonight. Pickled with immorality, riddled with bore holes of depravity, his swart aura clung to him like a wet cloak.
He sickened Gaby.
He challenged her.
And it didn't matter to her if he was 10 or 50.
Evil was evil.
Tonight, her boredom would end.
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