Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters Blog Tour — An Interview With Angel Martinez
Please welcome Angel Martinez to the Land of Make Believe. Angel is here today to discuss the re-release of Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters. She agreed to let me ask her some questions about her, her works and the series.
An Interview with Angel Martinez
Welcome Angel. Since this is your first interview on the blog, tell us about yourself.
Hi Andrew! Thank you letting me visit. I come from an academic family, so I’m something of a black sheep having “only” earned a BA in English Lit. Hey, I fought that degree hard, going to school with the clear goal of genetic engineering, but when something keeps calling, you can’t ignore it forever.
But love for a subject doesn’t guarantee employment. I was a job jumper for thirty years, retail, nursing, banking, health insurance, yaddah, yaddah, with job tracks and titles that have no meaning outside the corporate world and almost less inside it. I reached the point a few years ago where the kid was grown, we were on stable financial ground, and I could leave the corporate world to write full time. Have to be honest with you. Don’t miss it even a little.
Other than that? I live in Northern Delaware—where I’ve always lived—with one husband, (still the original) two regular sized cats and one oversized Maine Coon mix who is a talented paperclip thief. I write science fiction and fantasy with queer content, often with a strong romantic thread mixed in, though that’s not a must for me.
Before we talk about the new release, Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters, talk about the Offbeat Crimes Series. What was the inspiration for the series?
This one’s a little unusual for me. Stories come from everywhere—from snips of conversation, bits of dreams, an article, a poem, a joke. This one came from a prompt, which doesn’t happen for me terribly often. I can write to a prompt, but they’re rarely inspiring.
The call was for a paranormal precinct tucked away in a city’s police department (with the author’s choice of city.) Sure, I knew what other authors might write. Werewolf cops. Vampire cops. Cops with psychic abilities. They would all be deadly serious, full of violence, angst, and horribly broken characters. I wanted to subvert that, to write something humorous, something different…the opposite of a powerful, competent paranormal precinct. It’s maybe a character flaw that I’m drawn to the contrary, but damn it, it’s fun.
As a native Philadelphian, I see references to places I know well. Why Philadelphia?
I like Philadelphia. Seriously, you have to understand that Delaware has no large cultural centers. Newark is a nice college town, and Wilmington has some cultural things going for it, but neither are on the scale of a large city. Philadelphia is and always has been the major cultural center in my life. We go there for unusual movie screenings, for concerts, for museums, for historical sites, and for good restaurants. All the amazing restaurants.
So it’s my adopted big city. I don’t live there, but I’ve spent a lot of time there. I so often use settings of my own devising that it was both a challenge and a joy to include places I had actually been, streets I had actually walked. A reader and friend was visiting last fall and I was able to take her on an Offbeat Crimes tour of the places mentioned in the book. How fun is that?
This is an urban fantasy, can you tell us a bit about how abilities work?
Abilities, for the most part, are inborn and manifest later in life, often under extreme duress. As to how they work, they mirror old-school paranormal mental abilities—telekinesis, pre-cognition, that sort of thing.
How are ‘broken’ talents different from ‘unbroken?’
Unbroken talents are ones that work as advertised. If you’re a telekinetic, you should be able to move objects at will. If you’re someone gifted with apportation, you should be able to teleport objects from one place to another. Our squad of rejects at the 77th Precinct have abilities that don’t work well, don’t have a full range of effect, or simply are too bizarre for the State Paranormal unit in Harrisburg.
Shira Lourdes is a stress telekinetic. Her mind only moves objects when she’s upset. Jeff Gatling can only teleport fruit. Vance Virago is a firestarter but it can’t be wet or humid or he can’t get a spark. Carrington Loveless III (son of a wealthy Main Line family) is a skim blood vampire. He can’t drink whole blood. And so on.
Tell us about your main characters.
Kyle Monroe was happy being a normal cop until his “talent” manifested. He’s still adjusting to life at the 77th but he’s a well-adjusted, cheerful person most of the time. He’s managing. He’s a Philly boy, born and bred, loves geeky things and has a meat allergy that ambushed him late in life.
Vikash Soren, his new partner, is cool and reserved, far too calm and far too perfect as far as Kyle’s concerned. He grew up a bit farther to the west, so he’s new to the city, and his paranormal talent is neither immediately evident nor something he wants to talk about.
The second book, The Pill Bugs of Time¸ is coming out in August. Do you plan to write any more in the series after that.
As a matter of fact, yes. There are four more scheduled, some that will follow officers we know from the first two books and some that will follow new officers. The titles tentatively, in order are: Skim Blood and Savage Verse, Feral Dust Bunnies, Dropbears and Snipe Hunts, and All the World’s a Condemned Stage.
Tell us something interesting that isn’t in the blurb?
The head of the department, Lieutenant Dunfee, is the anti-priestess of an elder god and must conduct regular rituals to keep said god from manifesting.
Since there is always another story to tell, what’s next?
There are always “what’s next” stories stacked up in my doorway. As to what’s immediately next, I’m writing the next story in the Brandywine Investigations series (gods in the modern world) which involved Charon the ferryman and a certain raccoon god, but I don’t want to say too much on that yet.
The last question is all yours, share whatever you like with the readers.
I once had a reader say they wanted to live in my brain. You really don’t want to do that. It’s very messy in here. Envision an episode of Hoarders with bad flooring. You step wrong and you have no idea where you’ll end up. We’d have to send out search and rescue dogs with flashlights and emergency supply packs and even then, I can’t guarantee we’d get you out. I’m happy to keep handing things out through the window. Just…don’t come in here.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Angel! -AQG
Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to a precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.
Just as he’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, Kyle’s new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved, and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways. If they can learn to work together, they might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis
Release Date: Pride store release 7/19/16, General release 8/16/16
Every region has them, but no police department talks about them—the weird crimes, the encounters with creatures out of nightmares. The 77th Precincts exist in certain cities to handle paranormal crime and containment, usually staffed with experienced officers exhibiting psychic abilities.
In Philadelphia, through an odd mix of budget issues and circumstance, the 77th is manned entirely by officers with bizarre or severely limited psychic talents. The firestarter who can’t get a spark when it’s humid. The vampire who can’t drink whole blood. These are the stories of the misfits, the outcasts from even the strangeness of the paranormal community. Call them freaks, but they’re police officers first, serving and protecting, even if their methods aren’t always normal procedure.
Kyle sat up straighter, shifting to see between the heads in front of him. Soren looked like a poster boy for the model police officer, tall and straight, uniform crisp and sharp. He stood at parade rest beside the lieutenant impassively surveying his new colleagues. A little knot of resentment lodged in Kyle’s stomach. At his own introduction to the Seventy-seventh, he’d been nervous and fidgety, freaked out by the collection of…freaks. How can he be so calm?
“Officer Soren transferred from the Harrisburg PD—”
“Don’t they have enough freaky shit of their own up there?” Wolf called out in his rasping growl.
“—since Harrisburg is in our jurisdiction,” she continued with a quelling glance. “He’ll start out partnered with Monroe.”
“What does he do, ma’am? That it’s safe to put him with Kirby, er, Kyle?” Shira Lourdes asked as she flicked nervous glances across the room at Kyle. An empty chair slid away from her and fell over. Her partner, Greg Santos, shook his head and righted the unfortunate piece of furniture.
“Officer Soren’s abilities are his business, which he may or may not choose to share if you ask. And don’t bully him about it either, any of you.” Lieutenant Dunfee swept the room again, pinning each of her officers with her needle-laser gaze like captive butterflies. “Monroe, my office after briefing. Info on your current case.”
She dismissed them, stalking from the room with thunderclouds in her eyes. Kyle found himself approaching the new guy and trying his best not to be awkward. Did he offer to shake hands? Was it safe? Would the guy flinch like so many people did at the sight of Kyle’s scarred hands? Soren was even taller up close, six-foot-three of lean inscrutability, his blue eyes startlingly bright against smoky bronze skin.
“Um, hi, I’m Kyle Monroe.” Kyle fidgeted when Soren didn’t offer his hand either. “You’re with me, I guess. I’ll show you our spot in the squad room.”
Soren followed him silently and Kyle was starting to wonder if he was like Krisk in the not-speaking department until he finally spoke in a smooth, soft baritone, making Kyle startle and miss a step. “Why do they call you Kirby?”
“You’d hear it sooner or later, I guess.” Kyle shrugged. “It’s this thing I do, absorbing other people’s talents temporarily. If they’re close to me. Or touch me. Like Kirby, the little pink dude in the video game.”
Just that? Soren didn’t edge away, or change expression at all. Was he made of stone? “It’s a thing. Everyone here has a thing.”
After a few more steps, Soren asked, “Always?”
“What…oh, was I always like this? Who knows? I mean, maybe I’ve picked up stray thoughts or something, but no. It’s pretty recent. Knowing that I do this.”
Kyle took a wide arc around Vance as he entered the squad room, pointing to the double desk in the far corner, well removed from everyone else. “That’s ours. Coffee’s over there, but you might not want that coffee. Let me grab my file and we’ll go see the lieutenant.”
“So what’s your story, Soren?” Vance called across the squad room. “What flies your freak flag?”
“Yeah, what do you do?” Jeff Gatling stopped ’porting his banana from one corner of his desk to the other.
“I don’t really do anything,” Soren answered as he hefted the empty coffee pot. “Guess I’ll make fresh since I’m the new guy.”
He opened the top to remove the filter and every human voice in the squad room yelled out, “No!”
Most people would have startled, maybe dropped the carafe. Soren just blinked at the roomful of people gesturing wildly. He took the filter out and emptied it over the trashcan. “Why not?”
“You don’t want to do that.” Kyle stayed by his desk, a nice safe distance from the coffee station. “That’s Larry’s job.”
“Larry’s not keeping up then.”
The container of sweetener packets began to rattle. It shivered across the counter and leaped to a messy end, ceramic shards skittering across the floor. The desk that Krisk and Wolf shared rose from the floor several inches and slammed back down. Wolf fled with a squeaking yelp just before the desk flipped on its side.
Soren glanced toward Kyle. “Larry’s not a cop, is he?”
“He is…he was! A dead cop. Larry’s a ghost. He gets ticked if anyone else makes the coffee. Put the stuff back, please!”
“Larry?” Soren raised his voice but to all appearances remained completely unruffled. “I’m new here. I’m very sorry I invaded your jurisdiction. See? I’m putting the carafe back. Closing the top. Are we good, Larry?”
A breeze ruffled through a stack of papers, but no further mayhem ensued. The carafe slid from its pad on the coffeemaker and floated to the water cooler where Larry, who never manifested in a visible form, whistled tunelessly while he filled the carafe.
From his dim corner of the room, Carrington said in his dry, genteel way, “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Freaks.”
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, gave birth to one amazing son, and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.
Email (if you want it to be included): firstname.lastname@example.org