I am excited to welcome debut author James Tuck to Literary Escapism today. James’ first novel, Blood and Bullets, will be out in February from Kensington, but it’s already getting a lot of great buzz.
He lives to kill monsters. He keeps his city safe. And his silver hollow-points and back-from-the-dead abilities help him take out any kind of supernatural threat. But now an immortal evil has this bad-ass bounty hunter dead in its sights. . .
Ever since a monster murdered his family, Deacon Chalk hunts any creature that preys on the innocent. So when a pretty vampire girl “hires” him to eliminate a fellow slayer, Deacon goes to warn him–and barely escapes a vampire ambush. Now he’s got a way-inexperienced newbie hunter to protect and everything from bloodsuckers to cursed immortals on his trail. There’s also a malevolent force controlling the living and the undead, hellbent on turning Deacon’s greatest loss into the one weapon that could destroy him. . .
Two Different Ends of the Same Dark Alley
I am very excited to be here! Thank you for the opportunity to guest here at Literary Escapism.
Okay, so I just got done doing Dragoncon last weekend where I not only got to panel with some GREAT authors (Jeanne C. Stein, J. F. Lewis, Linda Robertson, Faith Hunter, Carole Nelson Douglas, S. A. Swann, and loads of others). I also got the opportunity to moderate a panel on modern horror literature with guests Jonathan Maberry, Nancy Holder, Phil Nutman, and Anya Martin. The juxtaposition of these two things has got me to thinking about how urban fantasy and horror cross each other as genres. I have written both. A straight horror short story that is a twisted zombie love story and a dark urban fantasy about an Occult Bounty Hunter named Deacon Chalk.
Stay with me, the two are not as different as they seem.
Generally speaking, both genres are dark. Both genres have violence and bloodshed. For the love of God, both genres are all about the monsters. The monsters are where horror and urban fantasy are on the same road. Pick up either kind of book and you might find vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and any number of other monsters.
But it’s the victims where those literary road trips depart and go wildly off toward new destinations.
In horror, the monster comes along, regardless of what it is, and begins to work its way through the books characters in a diabolical way. The deaths and terrors can be bloody and gory, fit for an F/X budget or they can be quiet and relentless to the point that your budget would be better spent on therapy to be able to sleep at night. Either way, by books end everyone has been affected and destroyed by the monster. They are all victims.
Urban fantasy starts at the same place with one huge difference.
The Big Damn Hero.
Put the same monster in an urban fantasy and you get a completely different result because at least one of the characters, usually the main one, stands up and says, “not this time pal”. Then they do what heroes do. They reach deep inside and find the courage to use their own power or to pick up a weapon. They mount up and throw themselves in the path of the Big Bad. One character decides their life being saved is not worth everyone else’s life being lost so they DO WHAT MUST BE DONE.
And I think that is why we keep returning to urban fantasy as readers. The world needs heroes and urban fantasy has them in spades. We need the example of some of our favorite characters who refuse to go quietly into the night, it strengthens us as humans. Literature is inspiration. It’s important to our culture as a touchstone for the character traits we need to survive. Next time the monster is breathing down your neck, remember what your favorite urban fantasy character would do and find the bravery to turn and face it head on. If they can do it, so can you.
Meet James Tuck!
James R. Tuck is a former bouncer and has been a professional tattoo artist for the last 15 years. He owns Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, Ga and lives just outside of Atlanta with his wife, two kids, and four dogs.