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Readers might be surprised by the nature of Lori Foster's newest release. Well known for her contemporary romances, the author jumps headfirst into urban fantasy with this month's Servant: The Awakening (Oct., Berkley), written under the pen name L.L. Foster.
Despite her previous success, the road to getting Servant told
was far from smooth. "Servant was rejected by every publisher that we sent it to, except for Berkley," says Foster, noting that the editors there trusted her to deliver a story that readers would want, even if it
is a departure from her previous works.
Servant is the first in a new series that follows a young woman, an orphan named Gaby, who kills demons. Vampire slayers as lead characters have become almost mundane as the paranormal has become the norm, but Gaby stands out from the crowd of slayers.
Having grown up a ward of the state after the death of her parents, Gaby lives alone and ekes out a meager existence working at a comic book store run by her twentysomething neighbor, Morty, though she has few ties to the world at large. But Gaby does have one strong connection -- to the cancerous demons that she's called to slay. Gaby spends her nights fighting the growing numbers of undead who are threatening her city. Then she's caught too close to a mutilated corpse by a mortal police detective, Luther Cross, and everything changes. Suddenly, Gaby's not only protecting people she doesn't know, she battling to save the lives of those she's come to care about -- namely Morty and Luther.
Foster says that she was called to write Gaby's story for a very simple reason. "I think every woman has had a period in her life where she felt she had the weight of the world on her shoulders and too many obligations pulling at her. But we get through it the best we can." Gaby's obligations -- to hunt and kill the demons -- is a weight that will always be on her shoulders, says Foster. "Except that now she's met Luther Cross, so we'll see if in the end, he lightens her burden."
The biggest difference between this story and her contemporary novels, says Foster, is "the amount of blood and gore. In a romance I hate to hurt my characters, but in this one it's kind of necessary."
Nonetheless, one character was granted a reprieve by one of Foster's three sons. "I was going to kill Morty, but one of my sons, who was reading it, said 'I'll stop reading if you kill Morty.' "
Lovable supporting characters are only one of the hallmarks of a Foster story. Fans of her work will also recognize the traditional Foster alpha hero in Luther. He is quick to
take charge and desperate to protect a woman he believes is in trouble. But Foster recognizes that having that kind of a guy around doesn't always work in an urban fantasy tale.
"Luther had to step back because he's caught in the quandary of not knowing if Gaby is guilty or not. He had to use his alpha protectiveness in a different way to keep her safe from humans," says Foster, noting this is never the case with her romantic heroes. "Romance guys have no questions about the heroine's innocence."
-- Whitney Kate Sullivan
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