This INDIEpendence Day I’d like to celebrate the awesome V.J. Chambers!
V.J. and I have been friends for a couple of years. She reviewed Glimpse on her website and I got a Google Alert about it. That’s how we met!
I thought since she did me a solid, I should probably read Breathless (Book One of the Jason and Azazel Trilogy) to see if I was into her books. Well, let me tell you, I felt like lightning struck my brain. I quickly devoured Trembling and Tortured, the other two books in the trilogy. (For a complete list of her books, click here.)
V.J.’s books are everything I love about reading indie. They’re deliciously weird and dark and sexy and funny. Her characters act like real people, even when they have supernatural abilities. She doesn’t go easy on religion or sexuality. A lot of her characters screw up big time and the process of watching them try to redeem themselves is the readers reward.
After reading the Jason and Azazel Trilogy, I basically told V.J. I’d beta read her grocery list if she wanted. Good thing she writes hella fast, because she had more books to shoot my way instead.
Olivia Calabrese has valued nothing more strongly since her mob boss father was arrested and her mother was killed in the cross fire. Even though her family sells illegal magical charms that have the nasty side effect of turning some wearers into berserkers—rage-filled monsters—she sees betrayal as a far worse offense than harming people. To prove her loyalty, she dreams of succeeding her father as head of the mob family.
When her uncle, the current boss, is shot by a rival gang, she just might get her chance.
But her cousin, her only competition, whispers something to her that throws her off track. He says her mother ratted the family out to the police. He says that her mother’s death wasn’t an accident, but a hit ordered by her father.
Her entire worldview called into question, Olivia sets about hunting down the truth about her parents. And to complicate matters, she seems to be falling for a boy who’s turning into a berserker—from her own family’s charms.
As her set of values shatters around her, Olivia must choose between staying loyal to her family or fighting against them.
Olivia Calabrese struggles to deal with the fact that her boyfriend Brice turns into a berserker—rage-filled monster—every night at midnight, and that if she ever has sex with him, she’ll turn into one too. When she’s not busy looking for a cure (that everyone claims doesn’t exist) for the berserker virus, she’s trying to deal with the threats her mob boss father Lucio levels against her newly formed jettatori “family.”
If that weren’t enough, it’s becoming clear that Tommy, her mentor and friend, is a double-agent for Lucio, feeding information to Lucio so that he can try to kill her with armies of berserkers.
And to make matters even worse, her right-hand man Josh seems to be developing a crush on her, something that Brice is not particularly happy about.
I just love these books! They. Are. Fabulous.
That’s why I’m giving three sets away! (Entry form at the bottom of the post.)
But first, check out this great guest post V.J. wrote about antiheroes.
If you asked me to choose between having Han Solo or Luke Skywalker back me up in a fight, I’d pick Luke. If you asked me which one I thought would make a better husband and father, I’d pick Luke. If you asked me which one I would rather play in a game of cards, I’d pick Luke.
On the other hand, if you asked me to watch Star Wars without the character of Han Solo, I’d walk out from sheer boredom.
I’m not sure when my obsession with antiheroes began, but I would guess that watching Han Solo was right there at the beginning. Han was a little shady. You were never sure, especially at the beginning, whether he was really on the side of the good guys or if he was just around to make money. When he started hitting on Leia, he was all kinds of cocky, in the way where he might get a sexual-harassment lawsuit if he was doing it now and not in a galaxy far, far away. And he was extremely rude. To, like, everyone.
However, Han was the heart and soul of the movies. (The lack of a Han Solo character in the prequels is one of the many ways they went wrong, but that’s a subject for an entirely different essay.) Take Han away, and all you’ve got is good versus evil in space with laser swords. Don’t get me wrong, that’s still pretty cool. But a character like Han Solo… well, that makes things really interesting.
I like characters like Han Solo. I like characters that struggle to do the right thing. I like characters who aren’t even sure what the right thing is. I like characters who make it just a teensy bit hard for me to care about them. I like characters with flaws. Big flaws. Nasty flaws. Flaws that make me uncomfortable. I like Lestat. I like Tony Soprano. I like essentially everybody in The Walking Dead.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I like bad guys. I don’t have any intention of rooting for people who like to hurt other people, my enjoyment of slasher movies notwithstanding. What I like are people that you care about, people who you want to win, but people who do their best to win, even if it means they aren’t very Pollyanna about it. I think those kind of people are more real. And while I’m not a stickler for extreme realism in my fiction, a realistic character — emotional realism, I suppose — is a definite plus.
So if those are the kind of people that I like to read about, obviously, those are the kind of characters I’m going to write about. My characters don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes they do things that shock and disgust me. They inhabit a gray world. They aren’t the bad guys. That’s for sure. But sometimes they don’t particularly act like good guys either. Still, I think their struggles are somewhat more poignant for the fact that they aren’t stalwart heroes in the traditional sense. Instead, they’re a little broken. They aren’t sure which way to go.
If antiheroes intrigue you too, then you might like my books. Just remember that like Han Solo, my characters might shoot first.
V. J. Chambers is fond of snakes, cheesecake, her boyfriend Aaron, Stephen King books, Buffy, and corduroy pants (although not exactly in that order).
She is the author of the two Jason and Azazel trilogies and many other stories for teens and adults.
She lives in Shepherdstown, WV.
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