The Necromacer’s Dilemma Blog Tour: An Interview With SJ Himes
Today I have SJ Himes here to answer some questions about her very cool The Beacon Hill Sorcerer series and the newest book The Necromancer’s Dilemma. As Sheena will explain, this is a different take on the genre so take a moment to read her interview and check out the series.
Welcome Sheena. Since this is your first time on the blog, tell us about yourself.
HI! Thank you for having me. My name is Sheena, and I write under two pen names, SJ Himes and Revella Hawthorne. I’m 32 years old, and I’ve lived in every region in the US east of the Mississippi. I used to work for Uncle Sam, but after ten years of losing bits of my soul, I decided to give myself a future I could enjoy and tried writing fulltime. Took me just over a year, but I am now fully self-sufficient. I still call New England home, despite currently residing in New Orleans. I grew up in Western Massachusetts, and I still miss my mountains. My favorite city of all time is Boston. No other place on Earth compares.
Before we talk about the new release, The Necromancer’s Dilemma, tell us a bit about the Beacon Hill Sorcerer’s Series.
First, I want to say I chose to make my main character a necromancer for my eternal love of the “bad guy”. A necromancer in the vast majority of fiction regardless of genre is an evil figure, and usually the antagonist. I wanted to take that premise and turn it around. Magic is a tool—how it is used determines good vs evil, and one person’s evil villain can be someone else’s hero. The Series is about a young man, Angel Salvatore, and his life after the Blood Wars. The Wars were a generations long blood feud between several magical families in Boston and New England. Near the end of the War, Angel, then just twenty, lost his entire family but for his little brother Isaac, in a horrific massacre. Angel went from a battlemage fighting enemies on a daily basis to being a guardian to his brother, and then a specialist tutor in sorcery. His life changed drastically, and he drifted along, closed off and merely existing. In the first book, remnants of Angel’s past comes back to haunt him. He is forced to wake up, face what he has and what he could have, and in a roundabout way, get revenge and justice for everyone who died in the Massacre. The entire series is going to be focused on the world Angel lives in, his love for Simeon, and his growing family. Some people stay the same, some people change, and some people finally embrace who they should have been all along.
How many books do you envision – for now – in the series?
I have six to seven books planned for the whole series. Angel and Simeon get book #3 as the main characters, then Isaac (Angel’s brother) gets his own book, then Daniel (Angel’s apprentice). Then the remaining books will be focused on Angel and Simeon.
Okay, so let’s talk about the new book, talk about Angel first. Who is he?
Angel is the oldest of two remaining Salvatore scions. He and his brother Isaac survived the Salvatore Massacre a decade earlier, due to a grand piece of spellcasting that spread Angel’s name across the supernatural community. It gave him a reputation—a dangerous one. He is a necromancer, a sorcerer with the Death Affinity. His affinity and personal power set him apart, and he is one of the few known necromancers in the country, let alone the world. In the new book, Angel is trying to learn how to be a brother instead of a parental figure, how to be a master to his new apprentice, and how to be a partner in a caring relationship. All of this is foreign to him—he spent so long being an island emotionally that changing himself on such a fundamental level is difficult. For Angel, his past has made him hardened and quite willing to do anything to keep those he loves safe, and that attitude is also applied to how he feels about his home, his city. Beacon Hill and Boston are his, and he will do what he must to protect lives from supernatural threats that the human authorities can’t handle. He is arrogant, to a degree, but very much a badass, so some of it is justified.
Angel is also learning how to be in a relationship with Simeon, vampire Elder and his soulmate. Angel knows he has something special with Simeon, and is walking on eggshells when something unexpected happens in their mate bond. Angel is afraid of losing what he has, and what he and Simeon could become in the future.
Who are some of the other characters we’ll meet in Book Two?
In Book Two we get to know Daniel Macavoy and Isaac Salvatore in greater depth. Daniel is the son of Leicester Macavoy, the leader of the magical family that orchestrated the Salvatore Massacre. Daniel is damaged—zero self-esteem, has horrible gaps in his magical education that makes him dangerous, and he was abused by the villain from the first book and also by his father. Angel spends a lot of time giving Daniel comfort, affection, and helping him heal from his past traumas. Isaac is Angel’s little brother, seven years younger. Isaac survived the Massacre because Angel intended to sacrifice everything to stop the vampire army sent to kill them all. Isaac was traumatized by the massacre, along with a secret that he’s carried since that horrible night. It has colored every interaction he’s had with Angel since then, and shaped him into a young man who carries profound depths of pain inside. I introduced three villains in this book, one a side villain who develops a scary infatuation with Angel, a really big and brutal henchman, and a powerful supernatural entity who becomes a serial killer. I’d give you their names, but it would be a huge spoiler for those who haven’t read the book yet. I can share that the serial killer has an exceptional reason for what he’s doing, and through him we are introduced to a new series regular character who will be appearing in the rest of the books.
What was the inspiration for the series?
My love for villains and my fascination with the urban legends and folklore I grew up hearing while living in Massachusetts. I adore urban fantasy, and I took my different passions and combined them into The Beacon Hill Sorcerer Series.
Tell us something interesting that isn’t in the blurb?
In this book, I give readers a peek into Isaac’s future—not literally, but there is an encounter with a powerful vampire that rocks Isaac’s foundation. This encounter has devastating consequences for the vampire in question, and puts Angel and this vampire lord at serious odds over Isaac. This situation is eventually going to lead to Isaac’s own book, which will be #4 in the series.
Since there is always another story to tell, what’s next?
I am working on a secret passion project and the next Revella Hawthorne title, Bred For Love IV: A Sovereign Vow. The Secret Project is a long term book, so that’ll be done sometime around Christmas. BFL4 should be ready for publication in mid-August.
The last question is all yours, share whatever you like with the readers.
Wow, this is more daunting that answering set questions. Okay, how about the following—I am afraid of spiders and I utterly detest bugs. Butterflies, dragonflies, praying mantises, and fuzzy woolie bear caterpillars are the only exceptions. I can’t swim. In fact, I am very afraid of deep water, and its worse if I can’t see the bottom. There be monsters!! My other big fear is heights. I lock up and can’t function if the distance is higher than my own height. If I can’t safely jump down, then it’s a big NOPE. Strangely enough I can fly without issue. No idea why. I have a dog, Micah, a big fluffy black dog who is my closest friend. He’s been by my side as I’ve traveled the country, and he is the perfect companion. He’s getting old now, and my heart breaks when confronted by the reality of his mortality. The day I no longer have him is going to break my heart. My favorite things to do are read and watch TV. (No surprise, right?) I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, and I called R+L=J waaayyyy back in the day when the books were first published. Getting that confirmed was like winning the ultimate argument.
Thank you so much for having me! This was fun. I appreciate the chance to be here.
The Necromancer’s Dilemma
Angel’s brother, Isaac, has returned home, and the pair begin to make slow and awkward attempts back to each other. Learning how to be a brother to a grown man instead of a parental figure has Angel adjusting his behaviors and habits, and Isaac still remains a mystery. Was it merely entering adulthood that turned Isaac away from an overprotective Angel, or does Isaac carry a secret that will keep them from finally being a real family?
Daniel Macavoy, Angel’s new apprentice, is torn between his bond with Angel and the grasping machinations of his father. Dealing with a traumatized apprentice with dangerous holes in his magical education, saving Daniel may be harder than Angel first thought—especially since the biggest problem is not revenge, but guilt.
The one shining beacon in his life is Simeon, Elder vampire of Boston’s only Bloodclan. Four hundred years old and sexy as sin, Simeon is warrior and sage, patient and cunning. The strength Angel draws from Simeon’s devotion and the newborn mate-bond between them is steadfast and true…and the fount of death magic that animates the undead lord places Angel in the midst of a power struggle for control over himself, his lover, and his family.
Through it all, Angel is beleaguered by the unwanted attention of a troll-hybrid, the adventures of a dragon in the city, and a serial killer has decided to hunt the back alleys and midnight streets of Boston.
Series: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #2
Release Date: July 2016
Genre: MM Romance, Fantasy
MATURE CONTENT Contains graphic violence, male/male sexual contact, a cranky necromancer, a sexy Irish vampire, and a pesky demon.
Having a dragon draped all over you was a good way to get attention. Some good, some bad, most of it annoying. This case it was annoying, as the woman in front of him in line kept turning around and outright staring at Eroch. His familiar was snuggled around Angel’s neck, the collar of his heavy weatherproof sweater opened enough so the dragon could get next to Angel’s skin. Angel wore a scarf, and Eroch was tangled up in it, purring contentedly, soft puffs of smoke coming out every time the woman ogled him. Eroch was annoyed, and Angel was about to drop a hex or light the hem of her skirt up with hellfire when Simeon coughed loudly, making the woman jump and turn around. He sent a narrow eyed glare at his lover and Simeon smiled back at him, one big hand holding his elbow and reminding him he was supposed to be a grownup.
The Thinking House, a long-standing gourmet coffee house on Tremont, was overflowing with people needing their coffee hit. The line moved up, and Angel regretted his burning desire to have a peppermint latte. It was early evening, the weekend officially started, and Angel was after caffeine fortification before heading out to battle. Or shopping, really, but they felt like the same thing. He disliked people in general, and hated shopping. He got his groceries delivered, and shopping during the holidays was enough to make him exceedingly short-tempered.
This year the people he had to shop for presents was doubled, and he still felt odd about that. Simeon was simple, all he had to do was raid the Salvatore Mansion and rescue an ancient tapestry that dated back to Ireland in the 11th century. It was small, only about the size of a movie poster, but the battle scene depicted ancient Picts and Celts, covered in woad battle markings and carrying weapons of a bygone era. It was presently wrapped up in a cotton sheath and in a pine box, the restorers able to clean the tapestry and repair a decade of dust and damp damage. The mansion may have been locked up and the furniture shrouded, but Angel hadn’t been thinking clearly when he closed the old house up and he’d missed some things.
Milly was even easier to shop for. He spent all of thirty minutes searching online for a diamond necklace and a hundred-dollar gift card to The Cheesecake Factory. His teaching partner adored diamonds and cheesecake, and he had yet to vary from that very reliable and successful gift arrangement. Worked like a charm for birthdays, too. The one year he decided to change things up, she’d flat out told him to stick to what he knew, and that’s what he did.
Simeon insisted it was only polite that Batiste, the Master of Boston, receive a present from them. Angel had accepted Simeon’s courtship and Angel was now considered part of the bloodclan. He refused to obey Batiste or live in the Tower, and while Angel had the feeling that such a stance wouldn’t be accepted from any other pair, Batiste let it go. Angel was in that gray area of being a practitioner and a vampire’s bonded mate, so both sides had a claim of authority over him. Well, if he listened to any authority other than his own that is—he had trouble listening to the police, let alone the Council of High Sorcery that supposedly ruled practitioners. Though how much ruling a council of stuffy, snobbish, elitist sorcerers could do from across the ocean in Europe was beyond Angel.
Angel had no idea what to get the Master, but Simeon said he would take care of it and Angel would just have to sign the card. He’d shrugged, signed the card when Simeon brought it to him, and went back to stressing over what to get Isaac and Daniel.
He had no idea. Daniel had been in his care since autumn, two months of living under his roof and accepting Angel as his master. Daniel quickly shed any hints of his past identity, which left Angel confused and pleased, and worried on top of that. The young man was twenty years old, and had been ten years old when his whole family and two other magical clans had enslaved a vampire clan and sent them after the Salvatores. Daniel, his father Leicester, and a few retainers were all that remained of the Macavoys after the human authorities stepped in after the tragedy. Leicester avoided prison somehow, and Daniel was raised by a man who succumbed to alcoholism and agoraphobia. Daniel was no longer terrified of Angel, but he also wasn’t opening up. Angel sucked at interpersonal relationships—hell, he’d never had a lover before Simeon, and he certainly didn’t count a handful of hookups, and Angel was still learning as he went. Knowing how to get Daniel to open up to him and be his own man was outside his experience, especially since Angel was convinced he’d fucked up Isaac while raising him.
Isaac was the biggest mystery. He knew his brother yet didn’t—he knew his brother’s likes and dislikes, but the man? No idea. Isaac steadily shut down on Angel when he turned eighteen, and grew worse as the years went by, and Angel was still in the dark as to the cause.
Angel was deep in thought when he got to the counter, and the barista coughing at him brought him back. Angel glared at the rude ass but ordered his white chocolate and peppermint latte. Simeon was in line just to keep him company, but Angel ordered a small hot chocolate for Eroch, and a scone. Eroch chirped in thanks, and the barista’s eyes went huge when he noticed the dragon curled under the collar of Angel’s sweater. Angel swiped his card, and had to reach over and grab his receipt from the machine when the guy kept staring. Eroch ate the attention up, puffing out tiny bursts of smoke and slow-blinking his bright yellow eyes.
“Stop flirting, I want my coffee,” Angel chided, and he went to wait down at the end of the counter. The barista kept on staring and Angel huffed, turning his back to the counter and crossing his arms. “My dragon. He can stare at his own. It’s so rude, like no one has ever seen a dragon before.”
Simeon laughed, and leaned next to him on the counter. “My love, no one has seen a dragon in this realm in hundreds of years. Would you be so sanguine if a unicorn were to be carried in someone’s purse like a pet?”
“I would want one immediately,” Angel said primly, arching a brow. “And I would never keep a unicorn in a purse.” He was kidding. One fantastical beastie was enough—God help him if there were unicorns out there, too. Eroch gave a meep and poked his snout at Angel’s cheek. “I’m kidding, my wee beastie. You’re it for me, I promise. No sparkly horse with an antler can ever replace you.”
BOOK ONE: The Necromancer’s Dance:
In a world where magic is real and evil walks amongst humanity, a young sorcerer is beset upon by enemies, both old and new. Angelus Salvatore is the only necromancer in all of Boston, and his name is whispered warily by the undead and fellow sorcerers alike. He and his brother Isaac are the lone survivors of an attack by an army of the undead, in which Angel used a spell so powerful it forever marked his place in history. Now, years later, Angel struggles to balance his career as a teacher of the higher magical arts, his role as big brother, and a tenuous relationship with an Elder vampire from the local clan. When his brother’s boyfriend is used as a pawn in a mysterious plot to draw Angel out, Angel is once again pulled back into the old hostilities that fueled the Blood Wars and led to his family’s death.
Leaning on others for help is something Angel cannot do, and while he searches for clues into who may be targeting him and his brother, Angel finds his heart steadily growing occupied with Simeon, Elder and vampire. Dealing with death magic and vampires on a daily basis may leave Angel jaded when it comes to life and staying that way, but the more time he spends fending off the ancient vampire’s attention and affections, the more he realizes he wants to give in.
Can Angel find out who wants him dead, and keep his heart safe in the process? How can he fall for a vampire, when his whole family was torn apart by an army of the undead?
Death stalks the streets of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill….and there is no one more suited to battle against death than a necromancer.
Buy Links for The Necromancer’s Dance:
About the Author
I’m a thirty something bisexual cisgendered woman with way too big an imagination, but that comes in handy when I’m writing. I have been writing since I was a child, when I took a four page assignment on what I was going to do on summer vacation and turned it into a 100 page fantasy epic all written by hand…in crayons. No joke.
I work a day job, but I can’t share for who, since the Old Man isn’t as liberated as the people who read my books. I’m married, I have furbabies, and I live with loved ones. I adore a certain show about a British consulting detective and his grumpy army doctor, and that spawned an addiction to Johnlock fanfiction, which then evolved into me writing it. Gawd, that’s embarrassing. Put this down in the TMI section of my Bio, okay? I enjoy martial arts, movies where things blow up, and I wish I lived in a Marvel movie.
I live in the beautiful and lonely Berkshire County in Massachusetts, and I see way more wildlife than I care to on a daily basis (bears!). My perfect day is reading surrounded by friends and family who don’t think it’s odd I want to hang out but not talk, and my favorite scent of all time is a cool fall evening with leaves burning….less a scent, and more of an experience.
My writing is focused on gay and lesbian people, who are more than interesting side characters that hang out with the heterosexual MCs. My wish for the future is that when people ask me what I do for a living, I can say, “I write gay romance,” and NOT get weird looks.
My alter ego is Revella Hawthorne, and I’m writing the Bred For Love series under that name.
Where to find SJ:
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