Into the Vigilante-verse (Upcoming IP teaser!)
We’ve hit June! Just like last month, I’m currently at a convention promoting my work and likely making many questionable decisions regarding my alcohol tolerance and a Kalahari cup or two XD If you’re at Colossalcon, hopefully we cross paths! And if not, then this author blog will have to suffice instead. Like I said before, we’re going to take a break from the deep dives and explore some other topics for a bit before we get into the Duskriven Chronicles books. The lovely people over on twitter helped me narrow down our topic du jour. This month, I’m going to introduce you guys to a new upcoming IP: my three-part (or will it be four?) vigilante-verse series!
This -hand waves- series is a compilation of novellas I wrote over on Patreon as part of our monthly short works poll. It started with just a 3-part idea I had about a really powerful superhuman turning to villainy solely for the sake of “kidnapping” (read as “spending time with”) his hero crush. That turned into a fleshed out six chaptered novella that spawned a lesbian sequel/spinoff as well as another vigilante story set in the same universe but that takes place in America (the other two take place in London.) They’re very silly and self-indulgent, full of very strong characters having very normal—and sometimes very not-normal—problems. I’m a huge fan of DC, specifically Red Hood and Batman titles, so writing a vigilante series was my excuse to go hog wild and incorporate all the tropes and themes I love most about cape stories. There’s identity shenanigans, vigilante charity auctions, the eternal conflict of opening up to someone else when a secret identity keeps getting in the way, and plenty of rooftop makeouts. I play with characters who have incredibly strong powers and others who have no powers at all. There are heroes seeking villains, villains seeking heroes, heroes seeking anyone at all, and villains who are just plain having fun.
Interested? I sure as hell hope so. Either way, let’s get to it.
I’ll have to preface this whole blog post by saying that, despite all of these works nearing publication-ready status, I still don’t have a series name picked out nor do I have concrete titles just yet. I’ve been referring to them colloquially as their couple names (Ezra/Kennedy, Pride/Stray, Tamsen/Vulture), but as of right now, I’m leaning on using the vigilante aliases of the love interests/non-pov characters (Nightshade, Pride, Minerva). For this post, I’ll probably be using the couple names since that’s still the working title I use on Patreon/with my publication team. If later you see them called something different, don’t be too confused. Blame my indecisiveness.
So, let’s begin with the one that started all of this mess: Ezra/Kennedy. Ezra Ravencroft and Kennedy Taylor. Nightshade and London King. Oh, boy howdy, where do I begin with these two? I don’t have the formal summaries for these works written up yet, so I’ll just give you the elevator pitch. Our main character is Kennedy Taylor, a middle aged superhero (or Special, as they’re termed in this universe) who has, in the public eye, gone to seed. He was one of the first big heroes back when Specials began to enter the scene—imagine Superman levels of notoriety and public approval. But that was over twenty years ago. Newer, flashier heroes have made their debuts, and Kennedy… Well, he’s a perceptive type. He knows which way the wind is blowing, so when his popularity and government support begins to ebb away, he’s ready to accept it—that is, he’s ready. It doesn’t seem like Nightshade, a villainous newcomer on the London vigilante scene, feels the same way.
What follows from there is more than Kennedy in all his twenty-plus years of crime fighting has ever experienced before. Nightshade seems to show up at the most random of moments. His skills are undeniable. His intentions, however… Kennedy already knows the government stopped offering to pay for his ransom amounts, so why does Nightshade keep kidnapping him during fights? Better question yet, why does the young cad keep kissing him once he’s got him at his mercy?
And honestly, the even better question, Kennedy knows, is why the hell does he keep letting Nightshade get away with it?
As you can see, this is all just super self-indulgent. I really wanted to try my hand at writing a different dynamic than what I normally do. So, for this one I went for a young, confident top (who is trans, btw, since I never ever see trans twink tops with older, bulky cis guys) and a middle aged-yet-moe bottom. I have to thank my artist for this series for steering me in that direction and planting the dynamic in my head when I began writing it. Linden has her preferences for sure, and they’re good ones. But more on Linden and her involvement later.
Ezra/Kennedy really does have it all: superhero fights, a charity bachelor auction, navigating secret identities in the most bone-headed way possible, and two male leads who are fucking morons in the best way. Seriously. Some of their exchanges are so goddamn funny that I’m a bit shocked I managed to come up with them. I think it’s safe to say that when you read this novella, you’re going to fall in love with Ezra and Kennedy both, at least, in between the moments when you want to wring their necks for being so dumb. Thank god the side characters have a few more brain cells—and that’s our segue into the next novella!
The next installment in this series—and the direct tie-in/sequel to Ezra/Kennedy—is Tamsen/Vulture. Tamsen McLeod and Vulture (her full name is a spoiler <3). These two are supporting characters in Ezra/Kennedy, with Tamsen serving as Ezra’s best friend/personal assistant and Vulture as Kennedy’s unwilling friend and occasional partner when buildings start blowing up during their pub lunches. It’s hard to say too much about the plot without spoiling things in Ezra/Kennedy, but I’ll do my best with another elevator pitch. Vulture is the epitome of a self-made vigilante powerhouse. She’s scrappy, she’s chronically broke, and unlike the big names around her, she’s made her meager reputation by herself. She’s got no powers, no political backing, and very little in the way of allies or people she trusts. That all starts to change after meeting the famous London King.
Now, she’s not so alone. Now, she’s surrounded by people who want to call her friend. But Vulture’s not keen on adding to her weaknesses by letting people in. She’s got a family she doesn’t want involved in her dangerous lifestyle, and the news is always full of stories of vigilantes losing those closest to them simply because their family and friends were an easier target for the villains than themselves.
Unfortunately for her, though? Sometimes there are jobs too complicated for just one person to do, and when her only option is to go to Nightshade for help, she finds herself with a hell of a lot more to handle than just one lousy drug operation.
Sorry, it’s really hard to write a summary for a sequel without spoiling the first book :/ The core themes at least are easier to convey. Vulture is a loner who is paranoid about letting people get close to her. Tamsen is a workaholic attached to her best friend Ezra whose very existence keeps them both from having normal lives. It’s a story about the difficulties in dating when you’re a vigilante, especially when the person you want to date isn’t exactly a vigilante herself—or at least what your idea of one is. There’s a lot of horny fight scenes, conflicting ideologies on the nature of relationships and duty, BDSM elements, and two women who could snap your neck like a twig frothing at the bit for intimacy, even if it does come with a bloody nose. I call it a disaster lesbian story involving two women who are not by nature happy, soft, or romantic with one another. A big tenant of my work is that I write things I don’t commonly see in the genre already. There’s nothing wrong with tender lesbian stories—hell, I’d call Hiraeth that, but if you’ve ever wanted to read something sapphic but not sappy, this is the story for you.
The third and final—at least, for the moment—installment is Pride/Stray. Just like with Vulture, Pride’s full name would be a spoiler, but I can at least tell you at length about Morgan “Stray” Hart. If you guys thought Ezra and Kennedy were dumb, then boy, do I have a surprise for you XD For a very long time I referred to this story as Reverse Vigilantes, as in, the reversed dynamic of Vigilantes, the very first working title for Ezra/Kennedy. This involves a young, overly confident to the point of stupidity hero (though I’d argue he’s more of an anti-hero) and an older, justifiably confident villain at the top of his game. If Ezra/Kennedy was pigtail pulling and kabedon-ing, Pride/Stray is straight up a big lazy cat toying with a mouse every step of the way. I really love the dynamic between an uppity hero who thinks he’s hot shit getting put in his place by a villain who finds the attempt cute. Getting to see it all happen from Morgan’s pov makes it so much better, too. His internal monologue is hilarious. Here, have a snippet.
“Oh, my god.” That wasn’t—! How could he just... He made another ill advised attempt to wriggle out of the man’s lap and onto the floor—even if it meant falling face-first and busting his nose, he wouldn’t care. His body felt too warm, not to mention every place Pride touched him felt like it was on fire. He twisted his head away from that touch and whimpered again when Pride just relocated his hands to his hips, forcing him to stop moving. “This is the most fucked up form of torture—”
“You think this is torture? Oh, kitten, you’ve got no business being in this line of work if you’re already beggin’ me to lay off.” He squeezed Morgan’s hips and rolled against him, hissing out a pleased growl. “Fuckin’ torture. I could break you in much worse ways than this. You’ve got no godly idea.”
Morgan went cross eyed. This really shouldn’t be as hot as it was, but he was twenty three and almost-sort-of-kinda a virgin, and his tolerance for attractive, mean older men growling at him was probably a lot lower than it should have been at this point in his life.
It took awhile to scroll through to find something to share. Morgan is so fucking funny so often… But I’m putting the cart before the cat, so to speak. As for the elevator pitch…
Morgan Hart wants to make it to the big leagues. He’s got the ability, the gear, the sidekick—though don’t let his friend hear that. What he doesn’t have, though, is the name recognition. In a city like Las Vegas where everyone who’s anyone is a household name, it can be hard to make an impression. So, when Morgan (alias Stray) hears about an exchange going down involving half a million in diamonds, he assumes this is it. This is the way he makes himself known.
Unfortunately for him, he ends up crashing an exchange between a gang and the most infamous villain on the West Coast, and suddenly, the notoriety he’s always wanted bites him in the ass. Pride knows his name now, and no matter how hard Morgan tries to keep one step ahead of the villain, things just don’t work out the way he intends—but then again, in the end, maybe Pride gets a little caught off guard too.
Terrible pitch because my brain is wearing thin, but the long and short of it is Morgan tries to take down a much bigger, much more powerful, and much more connected villain when he’s still meant for Weenie Hut Jr-levels of conflict. It’s adorable, it’s hilarious, and Morgan really just trips upwards with every step he takes. Turns out there are perks to being cute and hilariously incompetent, and Pride, lazy bastard that he is, both appreciates and underestimates it in equal measure. It’s hard to pick favorites when I sincerely love every single one of these vigilante-verse stories, but I think I probably had the most fun while writing this one. There’s just something about how unhinged Morgan’s internal monologue gets at certain points coupled with Pride’s slow, syrupy devastation that lights my brain on fire. Pride’s entire existence moves forward like the end result is already a long forgone conclusion. He’s a force of nature and a lazy motherfucker of a lion. His full helmet has cat ears on it. They’re both technically catboys. Seriously, what’s not to fucking love about that?
There’s one more in this series that has yet to be written. It’ll be another American one set in New York as opposed to Pride/Stray’s Las Vegas setting. It’s currently an option on my annual October novella poll on Patreon, so it won’t be written for at least another year, maybe longer. I won’t go into details on it since even I still don’t know entirely what the end result will be, but once the first three stories are out, hopefully it’ll be something for you guys to look forward to. This is a really fun universe and I cannot wait to share it with you all!
But hey, if you don’t want to wait and really want to see all three of these novellas now, consider pledging to my patreon <3 All three first drafts are up for all tiers on there, alongside many other novellas and novels and ongoing short stories. It’s a great way to help support me in between publications plus you get to read things well before they see their time in the spotlight. If you can’t pledge, that’s fine too. I appreciate the excitement and anticipation as well, and I look forward to seeing it all play out once I’m able to announce a date!
As of right now, current ETAs on publication are still in development. I’ve got to write an additional chapter for Tamsen/Vulture yet and all three works still need their time on the editing block, as well as cover art and… potentially interior art as well? I’ll be working with a new artist for this series, but you’ll likely recognize her name from every acknowledgements page since Brontide either way, so she’s not quite an unfamiliar face in regards to my work. Linden (@skelefarts) is a wonderful friend and an amazing artist, and she’s been champing at the bit to partner with me on more than just merch. She’s currently slated to do all three vigilante novellas (and the fourth, whenever that is finished) as well as two other novellas involving folklore, kitsune, and the spirit world. Go check her out on twitter (again, @skelefarts) and show her some support!
That’s all for this month. I hope you guys enjoyed getting to see what’s coming up in terms of publication, and I hope I managed to get you excited about these upcoming projects. I really had so much fun writing these novellas. I think it’ll show once you’re able to finally read them too. If you’ve got any questions about any of them, let me know! I’d love to hear about your favorite superheroes if you’ve got them, or the sorts of tropes you love to see in settings like these. Hell, I’m even eager to see what sorts of content niches you think I should consider filling with future works. Let me know in the comments, and, as always, until next time!